Over 900 people dead, 14,000 infected in Haitian cholera outbreak

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Vibrio cholerae
Image: Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility.

New figures show an estimated 917 have died and 14,000 more infected with cholera in Haiti's present outbreak. However, it is suspected that many deaths in mountainous regions far from hospitals are going unreported.

Clinics are rapidly filling up and many deaths are being reported. "The trend is extremely, extremely alarming. We have not reached a peak yet, but it could arrive next week," said the head of mission for Medecins Sans Frontieres, Stefano Zannini. A health official described the situation in Port-Au-Prince as "[growing] more pathetic each day." The official also said that hospitals in the capital are not able to cope with all of the patients.

The United Nations has appealed to donor nations for US$164 million in order to import more doctors, medicine, and water purification systems.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) "experience from the Peru outbreak in the early 1990s and from other countries in Latin America suggests that we should expect to identify additional cases for many months to several years."

CDC says cholera is "an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but sometimes it can be severe... In severe cases, the infected person may experience profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps, which can cause rapid loss of body fluids and lead to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours."


No one alive in Haiti has experienced cholera before, so it is a population which is very susceptible to the bacteria. Cholera, now that it is in Haiti, probably the bacteria will be there for a number of years to come. It will not go away.—World Health Organization spokesman Gregory Hartl