Over 250 dead in Haiti cholera outbreak, thousands infected

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Now that cholera has established itself with a strong foothold in Haiti, it's clear to us that this will not go away for several years

—Jon Andrus, deputy director of PAHO

At least 259 people are dead and over 3000 people have been infected in the Haitian cholera outbreak. Officials from the United Nations have said that they fear that the disease will spread across the entire country. As the cholera spreads quickly across the country anxiety levels are high as fears mount that the disease will spread to the earthquake ravaged city of Port-au-Prince. However, so far only a few cases have been reported in the capital which occurred when five people from the Artibonite region traveled to the capital where the disease became symptomatic.

Image of cholera bacteria
Image: Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility.

A field hospital has been setup in Saint-Marc to help treat patients while Oxfam has sent specialists to set up sanitation, hygiene and water facilities. The Health minister, Alex Larsen, and the president, Rene Preval, toured the affected areas and Larsen revealed that the government was launching a large anti-cholera campaign, aided by the WHO and US health officials. The UN has set up cholera treatment facilities in the Artibonite region and sent additional doctors. Facilities were also set up in the capital. It is believed that the massive surge of deaths will soon subside, but there will be more cases in the future due to the disease being established in the atmosphere.

A nationwide outbreak with tens of thousands of cases is a real possibility

United Nations

According to the CDC cholera is "an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae." The CDC also says, "the infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe. Approximately one in 20 (5%) infected persons will have severe disease characterized by profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. In these people, rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours." Cholera is contracted from drinking water or eating food contaminated by the Vibrio cholerae bacteria.


Some information contained in this article was obtained from television, radio, or live webcast sources. Reporter's notes and the broadcast source details are available at the collaboration page.