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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cholera Spreads Through Ukraine

KIEV -- More than 100 specialists sent to Ukraine's Crimean peninsula to combat a cholera epidemic launched strict monitoring of public places on Friday as the disease appeared to be spreading to other parts of the country.

Doctors said they feared people returning from vacations in Crimea would pass on the disease and launched checks along the main highway linking Moscow and Simferopol, Crimea's chief administrative center.

One case of cholera was noted among a group of tourists traveling through neighboring Belarus by train after a stay in Turkey. Eighteen people were being kept under observation.

In Russia's Northern Caucasus region, two more cases were detected in Dagestan after an outbreak killed 15. But officials said the disease was being kept in check.

Five people have also died in an outbreak of the disease in Albania and a cholera case was recorded in capital Tirana the country's capital.

Cholera causes diarrhoea and severe dehydration and can kill within hours. It is one of several diseases rare in the developed world but raging in the former Soviet Union, where health services have collapsed, medicine is in short supply and hygiene standards are low.

In Crimea, where two people have died, health officials said more than 100 epidemiologists had been drafted in, but their efforts were hindered by temperatures of more than 30 degrees Celsius and low water supplies. Thirty-two people were ill, with four to six new cases being reported daily.

Cholera bacteria were found in a river near Dnipropetrovsk, at least 400 kilometers north of the peninsula, triggering alarm bells among local officials.

"The highway from Simferopol to Moscow poses the greatest danger. Carloads of people are going north after holidaying in Crimea," said Mykola Hladky, a top epidemiologist in the city.

"Groups of doctors are checking public toilets, markets and other areas along the highway."

Two people contracted the disease after eating infected fish near the Black Sea port of Nikolayev, northwest of Crimea. Officials halted the sale of fish and banned swimming in local rivers.

In Simferopol, where most of the cases were concentrated, 18 schools closed earlier this week have reopened with reduced timetables. School cafeterias were shut down and trucks delivered special supplies of water for children.

The Salgir river running through Simferopol has been reduced to a stinking trickle and residents receive running water only every other day. Hotels display notices warning guests not to use tap water.