Iraq cholera cases on the rise

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, a deputy commander of the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division and of the U.S. military command for the Baghdad area, speaks with an Iraqi farmer, Tuesday. July 15, 2008, in an area about five miles east of the town of Latifiyah - that until recent months was a stronghold for al-Qaidai in Iraq. (AP Photo/Robert Burns)

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq's Health Ministry is reporting a total of 327 confirmed cholera cases in central and southern Iraq since an outbreak of the disease last month.

Dr. Ihsan Jaafar, the ministry spokesman, says Babil province south of Baghdad has had 200 cases, while 61 others were reported in Baghdad province.

The statement Thursday says the death toll from the outbreak stands at five.

Cholera is a gastrointestinal disease that can be spread by a lack of clean drinking water. The problem has been worsened by the poor state of Iraq's infrastructure after years of neglect and war.