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Cablegate: Proposed Zimbabwe Travel Alert - Cholera

VZCZCXRO9088
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #1076/01 3400700
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 050700Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3781
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001076

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR CA/OCS/ACS/AF T. Mason AND AF/S B. WALCH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC ASEC AMED ZI
SUBJECT: Proposed Zimbabwe Travel Alert - Cholera

REF: HARARE 001054

THIS IS AN ACTION REQUEST. SEE PROPOSED TEXT BELOW.

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. Post recommends a Travel Alert be issued for Zimbabwe, warning
American citizens of cholera, inadequate potable water, and a
collapsed medical infrastructure. The latest outbreak of cholera,
which started in August 2008, has overwhelmed medical resources in
country, exposed a critical potable water shortage, and threatens to
infect more than 60,000 persons in the next six months. Below is
our proposed text. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------
Proposed Travel Alert Text
--------------------------

2. The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of a cholera
outbreak in Zimbabwe and advises U.S. citizens visiting Zimbabwe to
use appropriate precautions. Cholera is a potentially fatal
bacterial infection of the intestine that causes severe diarrhea and
dehydration. The disease is spread through untreated sewage and
contaminated drinking water. The latest outbreak in Zimbabwe has
exposed a shortage of potable water throughout the country and
overwhelmed medical resources. Travelers to Zimbabwe should drink
boiled or bottled water, use boiled or bottled water in food
preparation, and regularly wash their hands with a sanitizer. This
Travel Alert expires April 30, 2009.

3. Cholera outbreaks initially erupted in two Harare-area
locations, but quickly spread to Beitbridge, the border post with
South Africa. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (http://ochaonline.un.org) now reports of
cholera outbreaks in all provinces of Zimbabwe, with over 11,000
cases and 500 deaths. Health officials predict up to 60,000 people
are in danger of infection within the next six months.

4. Although the humanitarian community is responding with water,
sanitation, and hygiene initiatives in outbreak areas, the outbreak
has exposed a critical shortage of potable water and medical
resources, leading to uncommonly high case-fatality rates. Harare's
steep decline in water and sewage infrastructure has fueled the
spread of the disease. Due to corroded water and sewage lines, many
sections of the city are without running water or sewage disposal.
Health officials have declared the city's water supply to be unsafe
and warn of conditions worsening during the coming rainy season,
typically mid-November through the end of March. Rains generally
increase the incidence of diarrheal disease and threaten to
contaminate wells with sewage runoff.

5. Hampering control efforts is the collapse of the Zimbabwe health
system. Harare's three public hospitals have virtually shut down.
Private clinics, while operational, are often lacking in staff,
electricity, water, and medical supplies. As a result, there is no
guarantee that adequate emergency medical treatment will be
obtainable for travelers who become ill.

6. For additional information on cholera, American citizens may
refer to the CDC's website at http://
www.cdc.gov/nczved/dfbmd/disease listing/cholera gi.html. American
citizens experiencing symptoms associated with cholera, such as
severe diarrhea, should seek immediate medical attention.

7. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad
should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at
http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel
Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Up-to-date information on
security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in
the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United
States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These
numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time,
Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Americans are
also encouraged to read the Country Specific Information for
Zimbabwe, available on the Embassy's website at
http://harare.usembassy.gov, and also at http://travel.state.gov.

8. U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad are encouraged to
register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the
State Department's travel registration web site at
https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/ so that they can
obtain updated information on travel and security. Americans
without internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S.
Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it
easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of
emergency. For additional information, please refer to "A Safe Trip
Abroad" found at http://travel.state.gov.


HARARE 00001076 002 OF 002


9. U.S. citizens may contact the American Citizens Services Unit of
the U.S. Embassy in Harare for further information. The Embassy is
located on 172 Herbert Chitepo Avenue, Harare. Telephone
263-4-250-593/4/5, e-mail consularharare@state.gov. The Embassy's
Internet home page address is http://harare.usembassy.gov.

MCGEE

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