Cholera kills 20 in Nigeria

Man stands beside a well abandoned by villagers for fear of contamination after major flooding in Yakasawa village, Nigeria, on September 26, 2010 (AFP Photo/Pius Utomi Ekpei)

Port Harcourt (Nigeria) (AFP) - A cholera outbreak in southern Nigeria's Rivers State has killed 20 people and infected scores more, the state health commissioner, Sampson Parker, said Wednesday.

Parker, a physician, said the outbreak was recorded in 11 communities in the Andoni local government (municipality) of the oil-rich state.

"So far, 171 cases have been recorded, with 20 deaths, in the outbreak which was reported on January 5," he said.

Parker said two treatment centres had been opened in the affected communities to manage cases.

"Emergency drugs and rehydration fluids have been provided," he said, adding that the outbreak has been put under control.

World Health Organisation physician Sylvester Malemi said his agency would provide technical support to the state to tackle the outbreak.

He advised residents of the affected areas to boil their water before drinking and maintain good hygiene.

Cholera, a highly contagious intestinal infection, is transmitted by water soiled by human waste. The disease leads to diarrhoea, dehydration and death if untreated.