Iraq: Death toll in cholera outbreak rises to 5

A Pakistani tribesman from Mohmand tribal region, who was injured in a clash between Afghan forces and Taliban militants, talks with his relatives at a local hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan on Wednesday, June 11, 2008. At least 10 Pakistani troops were killed in an airstrike and clash between Afghan forces and Taliban militants in a disputed border region, Pakistani military officials said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Cholera has killed five people in Baghdad and southern areas in an outbreak partly caused by the deterioration of water facilities during years of conflict, Iraq said Thursday.

Health Minister Salih al-Hasnawi confirmed 36 cases of the waterborne disease so far, including 13 cases in Baghdad and 20 cases in Babil province, south of the capital. The first fatality, a 3-year-old boy, was reported in Maysan province last week.

There are 86 suspected cases undergoing laboratory tests, he said at a news conference.

Al-Hasnawi said war and hardship dating from the 1990s have degraded water-treatment facilities in Iraq and deprived many Iraqis of clean drinking water, contributing to the cholera outbreak.

"The country needs to rebuild all its infrastructure and this issue needs huge effort and the government is determined to do so," said Tahseen al-Sheikhly, a civilian spokesman for Baghdad security operations.

On Thursday, neighboring Kuwait reacted to Iraq's cholera outbreak by banning the import of certain foodstuffs. The Health Ministry did not specify the food products. A day earlier, Jordan said it was banning the entry of uncanned food from Iraq for two months.

Cholera, a gastrointestinal disease, is typically spread by drinking contaminated water. It can cause severe diarrhea that in severe cases can lead to fatal dehydration.