Fear of Cholera Prompts Gaza Ban

Israeli health authorities this week banned the import of fruit and vegetables from the Gaza strip to prevent the spread of what they say is an outbreak of cholera there.

The decision prompted denials from some Palestinian officials, who said the outbreak was a rumor prompted by the admission to a Gaza hospital last week of a Palestinian family of six who were suffering from severe diarrhea and high temperatures.

The officials said the family was first diagnosed as having cholera, but that the diagnosis was later changed to stomach infections.

But Dr. Boaz Lev, a senior official of the Israel Health Ministry, told Israel Radio on Tuesday that Riyad Zanoun, minister of health in the Palestine Authority, had told him that there were 20 suspected cases of cholera in Gaza, of which six cases had been confirmed.

A two-year-old baby was reported to have died of cholera Tuesday.

Israeli health authorities say that vegetables and fruits from Gaza are frequently grown in fields irrigated with untreated sewage water or from infected wells.

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