NIAMEY, Niger (AP) — Niger's Ministry of Health has declared an epidemic of hepatitis E in the Diffa region, where 25 people have died among the 86 cases recorded since the beginning of April.

Public Health Minister Idi Illassou Mainassara said Thursday that authorities have blocked roads leading into the infected area and are assisting the sick. He says the situation is now under control, but advised the population to be vigilant and to report to the health center for free treatment if they have symptoms.

Hepatitis E is most commonly transmitted through water contaminated with human excrement. Mainassara says the main symptoms are fever, headache, vomiting, ulcers, abdominal pain and loss of appetite.

The Diffa region in Niger has for years hosted thousands of people displaced by the Nigeria-based Boko Haram Islamic extremists.

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