Cholera is a gastrointestinal disease that is spread by drinking contaminated water. Severe cases can cause fatal dehydration.
 
Definite cases
 
Dr Burhan Omar, a physician at Azidi hospital, told Al Jazeera that several patients had definite cases of cholera.
 
Dr Omar at Azidi hospital said there was
a definite outbreak of cholera in Kirkuk
"There is an outbreak of cholera in Kirkuk – we can’t deny this fact. One of the simplest preventative measures is to tell people how to control the disease," he said.
 
During his visit to the hospital, which he made with representatives from Iraq's central health ministry, Othman said 2,250 people were suffering from diarrhoea in Sulaimaniya and 2,000 in Kirkuk.
 
He said he was ready to provide help to hospitals in Kirkuk that are not part of the three semi-autonomous Kurdish provinces in northern Iraq, as they try to treat cases of the disease.
 
He said that large outbreaks of cholera could affect the capital Baghdad and the central province of Salahuddin.
 
Disease monitoring
 
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a statement released on Wednesday that it had established a programme for monitoring cholera in Iraq.
 
"To date, it is estimated that Sulaimaniya governorate experienced close to 5,000 cases since 10 August, with 10 deaths reported and 51 confirmed cases in Kirkuk," the statement said.
 
The statement said that WHO will establish a surveillance system for water quality control, food inspection and case findings and management.
 
It added that the UN Children's Fund will lead a programme of oral re-hydration therapy for those affected.