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Cablegate: Cholera Outbreak in Southern Laos Abating

VZCZCXRO4626
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHVN #0068 0300718
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 300718Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1787
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 2242
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/JPAC ANNEX CAMP SMITH HI
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA

UNCLAS VIENTIANE 000068

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR G
STATE FOR EAP/MLS
STATE FOR EAP/RSP
STATE FOR EAP/EP
STATE FOR INR
STATE FOR OES/STC (PBATES)
STATE FOR OES/IHA (DSINGER AND NCOMELLA)
STATE FOR MED
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR ANE AND GH
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE FOR OSD/ISA/AP (LSTERN, TSHUBERT )
BANGKOK FOR RMO
BANGKOK FOR CDC (MALONEY AND ZIMMERMAN)
BANGKOK FOR USAID (JMACARTHUR AND BOWLES)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MASS SOCI PREL AMED EAID LA
SUBJECT: CHOLERA OUTBREAK IN SOUTHERN LAOS ABATING

REF: VIENTIANE 41

1. (U) Summary: The cholera outbreak in southern Laos that
began in mid-December (reftel) appears to be abating. The
director of the World Heath Organization's (WHO) office in
Laos expressed appreciation for USG interest in assisting but
said that no additional resources are necessary at this time.
End summary.

2. (SBU) As noted in Reftel, there was an outbreak of
cholera in Sekong province in southern Laos beginning on
December 19, 2007. Approximately 300 cases were reported,
with three fatalities. As of mid-January, WHO and Lao health
officials were concerned about the possibility that the
outbreak would spread from the two affected districts to
other areas in Sekong and neighboring provinces. However,
the epidemic seems to be abating. WHO Country Director Dong
Il Ahn told the DCM on January 28 that there had been no new
cases since January 24. The outbreak, he said, has not
spread beyond the two districts in Sekong province where it
was originally identified. According to WHO protocols, an
epidemic is not declared to be over until ten days have
passed since the last new case. However, according to Ahn,
"there is no reason to believe that the outbreak is ongoing."
Nevertheless, Dr. Ahn said, health officials continue to
monitor surrounding areas, especially Champasak province, to
make sure the illness is not spreading.

3. (SBU) Dr. Ahn told the DCM that he appreciated the USG's
willingness to explore the possibility of providing water
purification equipment or other equipment through the U.S.
Pacific Command (PACOM). However, this is not necessary at
this point, given that the epidemic appears to be contained
and chlorination and boiling of water have approved effective
in the affected areas.

4. (SBU) Comment: Embassy Vientiane appreciates the
efforts of those at PACOM, the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC), and others to identify ways to assist
in addressing the epidemic. Luckily, this assistance is not
necessary at this time. End summary.
Huso

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