Niger says cholera epidemic has killed at least 68 people

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Niger’s public health ministry says at least 68 people have died in a cholera epidemic that began in July.

The ministry this week said it has registered more than 3,690 cases of the disease, which is caused by contaminated food or water and can kill within hours if untreated.

The epidemic has spread in the central Maradi region and has also affected the northern Tahoua, eastern Zinder and southwestern Dosso regions.

The U.N. children’s agency and World Health Organization have estimated that only 37 percent of the population in the Maradi region has access to clean drinking water and only 10 percent has access to basic sanitation.

Niger’s heavy rainy season from June to September allows the disease to spread easily.