Cholera Kills Dozens in Nigeria

Dozens of people have died from a cholera outbreak in slum districts in the city of Makurdi (search) in central Nigeria (search), government officials and residents said Saturday.

Hundreds of cases of cholera were reported in the Wadata and the North Bank districts of Makurdi in the past week, out of which six people have been confirmed dead, said Mike Iduma, the Benue state commissioner for health.

Murtala Tanko (search), a local undertaker, said he oversaw the burial of more than 80 people who succumbed to the disease in the Wadata district alone in the past nine days.

Cholera is a severe bacterial infection of the intestine causeaminated water. Symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting, leading to death unless treated quickly.

Emergency health teams have been dispatched and water tankers sent with alternative supplies to the affected communities where people depend on the nearby River Benue for drinking water, Iduma said.

Cholera (search) epidemics are common in Nigeria, where a majority of the country's more than 130 million people lack access to clean drinking water.