Cholera Outbreak in Haiti

A malnourished child sleeps in the arms of a nurse, in Cité Soleil. (UNICEF/Marco Dormino)

Since the outbreak of cholera was declared in late October, the Ministère de la santé et de la population of Haiti has reported a total of 3,790 deaths and over 180,000 sickness-related cases.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, was struck by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake last January that killed over 200,000 people.

Even before the earthquake, sanitary conditions in Haiti were poor.

According to the BBC, there has been no documented outbreak of cholera in Haiti since the 1960s.

Cholera is a bacterial illness, which affects the intestinal system. The illness is caused by drinking contaminated water, and it can cause profuse watery diarrhea, a high fever and vomiting, leading to death due to rapid dehydration.

At a clinic , patients are screened for diarrhea and dehydration, Port-au-Prince ( Gerald Martone/IRC)

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), only 12 per cent of the Haitian population receives treated tap water and  17 per cent have access to adequate sanitation facilities.

The CDC’s agenda involves controlling the outbreak, so that fewer people die from cholera. “The reality is that we have a serious problem here,” CDC spokeswoman Lola Russell told CNN.

Haitian authorities and aid agencies are emphasizing drinking and using clean water as the current outbreak continues to spread. Infected individuals could easily spread the illness further by preparing food without proper hygiene.

“We expect we will be working very hard for many months to come,” CDC epidemiologist Jordan Tappero told CNN.

Source: CNN Health

Related Links: Cholera Update

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