Cholera has killed more than 600 people in Peru, stricken nearly 100,000 and cost an estimated $1 billion in economic losses to the impoverished nation, U.N. officials say.

Ten cases have been confirmed in Colombia, they said in their reports Thursday. The epidemic, which began in Peru in January, has also sickened hundreds in Ecuador.Dr. Hiroshi Nakajima, director-general of the World Health Organization, said Peru's losses total about $1 billion and appealed to the world community for help. He said Peru must rebuild its water and sewage treatment systems and improve its medical care.

So far, the United States, 22 other governments, the European Community, private and U.N. relief agencies have donated $5.3 million to Peru in relief funds.

Peru's Health Ministry has begun working with the U.N. Children's Fund to mobilize local women's groups to improve local sanitation for about 200,000 families.

The U.N. Disaster Relief Organization reported that the cholera epidemic in Peru has sickened 97,115 people and killed 609. The agency said 31,205 victims are hospitalized.

The hardest-hit area is the northern department of Cajamarca, where 172 people have died, the disaster agency said.

Meanwhile, the agency said cholera has appeared in Colombia, where 10 cases have been confirmed in the town of Tumaco, about 300 miles southwest of Bogota.