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October 26, 2008

UN says 12,225 cholera cases and 201 deaths in West African nation of Guinea Bissau

An article in the Star Tribune reports that over 12,000 people in the West African nation of Guinea Bissau have been infected with cholera and 201 people have died since the outbreak started in mid-May.

The World Health Organization defines cholera as "an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae." It is typically spread through contaminated food and water. Clean water and sanitary conditions are needed to prevent the spread of cholera.

Cholera is still a threat to global public health, but cholera has not bee prevelant in the United States since the late 1800s due to proper sewage and clean water. People traveling outside the U.S. can be at risk for acquiring the disease or even bringing back contaminated food.