An outbreak of a parasitic tropical disease has killed more than 300 people in Southern Sudan, officials say. The World Health Organization says the outbreak of kala azar, which began in September 2009 and has intensified in recent months, is the biggest health problem facing the region. More than 7,000 cases have been reported this year by the health organization and the Southern Sudanese health authorities. More than 300 people have died since September 2009, the W.H.O. says, but officials fear the disease could spread for several more months.
Dr. Abdinasir Abubakar, a W.H.O. medical officer in the region, said this week that health officials were “struggling to respond to the outbreak because it is beyond what we had planned.” The parasite is transmitted through sand flies, and mainly affects children whose immune systems are compromised.