updated 9/14/2007 6:07:54 PM ET 2007-09-14T22:07:54

The number of suspected cholera cases in northern Iraq continues to rise, with 16,000 people now showing symptoms, the World Health Organization said Friday.

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As of Sept. 10, 6,000 have been reported with symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting in the province of Sulaimaniyah, another 7,000 in Tamim province, and 3,000 in Irbil province, the WHO said in a statement.

To date 10 people have died and 844 cases of the disease have been confirmed, the WHO said.

Earlier in the week, regional authorities reported 11,000 people with symptoms, 700 confirmed cases and 10 deaths.

Cholera is a gastrointestinal disease that is typically spread by drinking contaminated water and can cause severe diarrhea that in extreme cases can lead to fatal dehydration. It broke out in mid-August and has so far been limited to northern Iraq.

The WHO reported earlier this week that all public water supply systems in the affected districts have been chlorinated by provincial authorities in an attempt to stop the disease from spreading further.

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