Thursday, 29 January 2009

Cholera Outbreak in Zimbabwe- Latest News

ZIMBABWE: Worst-case cholera scenario getting worse 26 January 2009

JOHANNESBURG, 26 January 2009 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's worst-case cholerascenario, as predicted by the World Health Organisation, is likely to besurpassed within a few weeks and there are still about two months of therainy season left.

In December 2008 the WHO said cholera cases could balloon to 60,000before the rainy season ended in March 2009, but Gregory H=E4rtl,spokesman for the organisation's Epidemic and Pandemic Alert andResponse office in Geneva, told IRIN that as of 25 January, 53,306cholera cases and 2,872 deaths had been recorded since the outbreak began in August 2008.

Cholera, an easily treatable waterborne disease, thrives in poorsanitary conditions and is expected to remain a feature until Zimbabwe'srainy season subsides.

The Herald, a state-owned daily newspaper, trumpeted in its 26 Januaryedition that cholera was on the "retreat" in the capital, Harare, butcautioned that "Cholera is still present in the city, especially thesouthwestern suburbs, and any relaxation in our guard and our efforts will see the caseload explode."

However, H=E4rtl said the conditions causing Zimbabwe's cholera outbreakremained in place. "The systemic underinvestment in water and sanitationinfrastructure and the health system ... These conditions will notchange overnight."

Zimbabwe's cholera death toll has now exceeded the number of people whohave died from the disease in the entire African continent over severalyears: in 2001 (2,590 deaths), 2003 (1,884), 2004 (2,331) and 2005(2,230), according to the WHO. Figures for 2006, 2007 and 2008 were notavailable.

Africa had 4,610 cholera deaths in 2000, and 4,551 in 2002.

The disease has also spread to neighbouring countries. South Africa'sHealth Minister, Barbara Hogan, told a local television station that thecountry's cholera outbreak was a consequence of the spread of the disease from neighbouring Zimbabwe.

According to local media reports, between 15 November and 24 January,5,696 cases were diagnosed in South Africa and 36 people died.

The South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)notes on its website that the disease strain in both South Africa andZimbabwe is Vibrio cholerae O1 serotype Ogawa biotype El Tor.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs(OCHA) said in its regional update on 23 January 2009 that ninecountries in the Southern Africa region were reporting cholera cases:Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland,Zambia and Zimbabwe.

"Trans-border infections have been recorded and cholera is becomingendemic (recurrent throughout the year) in most of the affected countries," OCHA said.

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Area 51-Fact or Fiction?

Area 51 is a military base, and a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base. It is located in the southern portion of Nevada in the western United States, 83 miles (133 km) north-northwest of downtown Las Vegas. Situated at its center, on the southern shore of Groom Lake, is a large secretive military airfield. The base's primary purpose is to support development and testing of experimental aircraft and weapons systems.[1][2]

The base lies within the United States Air Force's vast Nevada Test and Training Range. Although the facilities at the range are managed by the 99th Air Base Wing at Nellis Air Force Base, the Groom facility appears to be run as an adjunct of the Air Force Flight Test Center (AFFTC) at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, around 186 miles (300 km) southwest of Groom, and as such the base is known as Air Force Flight Test Center (Detachment 3).[3][4]

Though the name Area 51 is used in official CIA documentation, other names used for the facility include Dreamland, Paradise Ranch, Home Base, Watertown Strip, Groom Lake, and most recently Homey Airport. The area is part of the Nellis Military Operations Area, and the restricted airspace around the field is referred to as (R-4808N), known by the military pilots in the area as "The Box" or "the Container".

The intense secrecy surrounding the base, the very existence of which the U.S. government barely acknowledges, has made it the frequent subject of conspiracy theories and a central component to unidentified flying object (UFO) folklore.