Health officials in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region have declared a state of emergency amid a cholera epidemic. There have already been three reported deaths and over 200 cases of the disease in the region.Government ministries in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region are pulling together to prevent the spread of cholera. Over 70 people are being tested for cholera every day amid an epidemic in the region’s Sulaymaniyah province. Those affected are scattered throughout the province, making it difficult to pin point the exact source of the outbreak. The first cholera case was identified about fifteen days ago. About 1,700 people have been admitted to hospital due to diarrhea. Of this number, 210 have been identified as having cholera. Three cholera deaths have been reported so far. Kurdistan’s Health Ministry is now taking action to prevent the disease spreading to Kurdistan’s capital, Arbil. Two cholera cases have been treated in Arbil. Restaurants in the city have been ordered not to serve lettuce or parsley until further notice. Cholera is an intestinal infection caused by bacteria. The disease is often linked to contaminated drinking water. Most of those infected do not show symptoms, but symptoms can include extensive diarrhea, vomiting and muscle cramps. Life-threatening dehydration can occur rapidly. This is the second outbreak of cholera in Sulaymaniyah within five years. In 2007, at least nine people died of the disease. The Kurdistan Region’s Health Ministry told Press TV that action is needed to review water and sewage systems, especially in Sulaymaniyah province. The province is renowned for its poor water treatment facilities.