Zanzibar cholera outbreak has killed 15 people

Juma Rajab, director of Public Health in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in Zanzibar, said the victims are from the Unguja and Pemba islands.

Last month, officials in mainland Tanzania's commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, reported 12 people dead and 115 sickened there. Updated figures were not immediately available Thursday.

Cholera is transmitted through contaminated water and is linked to poor hygiene, overcrowding and bad sanitation. Symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting, which can kill unless treated quickly.

"Cholera is still around us. People should boil drinking water and exercise health precaution by improving their hygiene standards in living surroundings," Rajab said.

Cholera erupted amid heavy rains in the region hit by a drought that has hurt farmers across East Africa, leading to severe food shortages in Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti. The rain is washing garbage and other waste into wells or water catchment areas.

A 1997 outbreak killed 124 people and sickened 1,100 in Zanzibar, which has a population of 1 million, the AP reports.