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Central Burundi hit by 'worst' malaria epidemic

BUJUMBURA, Burundi -- Central Burundi's worst malaria epidemic in living memory has claimed up to 300 lives in the last two weeks and local hospitals have become swamped as the killer disease spreads, doctors in the area said Friday.

Medical staff in Mwaro province say they registered 19,288 new cases of malaria in October in two sub-districts alone.

In one town 600 patients are being diagnosed with the fever every day but cannot get proper treatment because the hospital has only 120 beds.

"This is the worst malaria epidemic we have ever had," provincial doctor Juvenal Ndayishimiye told Reuters. "There are not enough places for everyone who is coming."

He said hospitals in the province would run out of medicine in the next two weeks if the epidemic continued unchecked.

Malaria kills an estimated 1.1 million people worldwide each year, 90 percent of them in Africa. The disease, which is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, causes intense fever.

Malaria and AIDS are the biggest killer diseases in Burundi, a tiny central African country which has also been ravaged by a seven-year civil war.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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