Doctors in Baghdad on Tuesday reported the first suspected cases of cholera and typhoid, two potential killers caused by bad water sanitation.
About 50 percent to 60 percent of the children brought for treatment at Al-Iskan children's hospital were suffering from dehydration and diarrhea caused by dirty water and other unsanitary conditions, said Dr. Ahmed Abdul Fattah, the assistant director.
Doctors suspect hundreds of the children have cholera and typhoid, but with no labs fully working and most U.N. health workers having fled, hard-pressed physicians said they could only treat the cases, not confirm them.
Iraqis were also being treated for the diseases at special clinics set up inside mosques because health clinics citywide have been depleted by looting.
Cholera and dysentery are two diseases aid workers commonly fear in places like Baghdad, which still largely lacks clean running water because 80 percent of the city remains without power.
In modern hospitals, cholera is easily controlled with antibiotics, but untreated, the disease kills 50 percent to 80 percent of those infected. It is most lethal for children under 5 and for the elderly.
Typhoid is treatable with antibiotics, but occasionally fatal for victims who do not get proper care.