Haiti confirms cholera outbreak has killed 168, so far


Saline drips are one of the many products being airlifted in to treat the cholera outbreak. Image: Flickr / nicmcphee / CC-BY-SA

North of Port-au-Price, Haiti, officials have confirmed a cholera outbreak. With more than 1,500 people infected, the outbreak is huge. The outbreak is blamed on the slow recovery from January’s earthquake.

Cholera outbreak proves deadly

For almost a week, medical officials in Haiti have been waiting for confirmation on a disease outbreak in Saint-Marc. The diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration caused by the cholera bacteria can be deadly, especially for children and the elderly. Local hospitals have been entirely overwhelmed by the cholera outbreak. One hospital set up emergency care for cholera victims in the parking lot but had to move them inside when it began to rain. Hospitals have been attempting to transfer patients around hospitals with more room, but the speed with which cholera moves makes that strategy difficult. Approximately 168 people have died, as of this writing, though several thousand have been infected.

First Haitian cholera outbreak in a century

The World Health Organization has confirmed that the Haitian cholera outbreak is the first in Haiti in more than 100 years. Cholera is most often transmitted through drinking dirty water. Some victims of the cholera outbreak are saying that they drank only purchased, purified water. Either way, WHO officials are tracking down what they believe to be the source of the outbreak. Cholera can kill a healthy individual in four hours or less, so fast treatment is incredibly important.

Airlift of supplies for Haiti cholera

Several medical and humanitarian groups have already begun organizing airlifts of supplies to Haiti. The densely populated camps of earthquake survivors are very prone to outbreaks of cholera. Antibiotics, rehydration salts and saline drips are all being airlifted into the country. The lack of a strong sanitation and vaccination infrastructure in Haiti complicates the treatment options for the disease. Until earthquake survivors have reliable sanitation, cholera outbreaks are a consistent and constant concern.


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