Published Date: 2010-10-22 10:00:07
Subject: PRO/EDR> Cholera - Haiti (02): (AR) confirmed
Archive Number: 20101022.3821
CHOLERA - HAITI (02): (ARTIBONITE) CONFIRMED
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Fri 22 Oct 2010
Source: The Wall Street Journal [edited]
Laboratory tests in Haiti have confirmed cholera as the cause of an
outbreak of severe diarrhea in a rural-central part of the country
that has killed dozens of people and sickened hundreds more.
Officials from Haiti's Ministry of Health were expected to announce
the test results this morning [22 Oct 2010], according to a person
familiar with the testing. The Ministry is investigating the outbreak
along with the CDC and the Pan American Health Organization.
The epidemic is the 1st major disease outbreak since the January 2010
earthquake that killed as many as 300 000 people, according to health
groups working in Haiti. Health experts and humanitarian aid groups
have warned for months that the crowded conditions in which refugees
[are living] could spawn epidemics of deadly disease.
"This is the 1st major epidemic that has taken place since the
earthquake [January 2010] as far as I'm aware," said Andrew Marx,
spokesman for Partners in Health [PIH], one of the largest US health
organizations operating in Haiti.
Cholera wasn't high on the list of feared diseases, because Haiti
hasn't had an outbreak of that disease since the 1960s, Mr Marx said.
Nor was the Artibonite region, where the outbreak is occurring and
which escaped heavy damage from the earthquake. Health groups have
been more worried about disease spreading in refugee camps closer to
Port-au-Prince, where thousands lost their homes.
But Artibonite has also absorbed thousands of refugees. The area has
also long suffered from a lack of clean water, Mr Marx said. Patients
with acute diarrhea, a symptom of cholera as well as other diseases,
began arriving Tuesday [19 Oct 2010] at the St Nicholas Hospital in
St Marc, where PIH works, Mr Marx said. By the next morning, "it was
clear there was something serious going on," he said.
As of Thursday [21 Oct 2010], the hospital had reported 500 cases and
12 deaths. Another hospital that PIH works with in the city of Petite
Riviere reported 50 cases and 3 deaths, with another 5 deaths
reported in the community.
Catherine Huck, deputy country director for the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told the Associated Press that
the country's health ministry had recorded 135 deaths and more than
1000 infected people, the AP reported.
PIH is sending health workers out into local communities to warn
residents of the outbreak and urge them to drink only purified or
boiled water and to adhere to other sanitation measures, Mr Marx said.
[Byline: Betsy McKay]
[Given the conditions in Haiti and the number of internally displaced
persons in this rural area, the scope of this outbreak may become
quite large and could have a substantial case fatality rate. Since
_Vibrio cholerae_ has not been found in Haiti for some time, it will
be interesting to learn what the microbiological characteristics of
the strain are. - Mod.LL]
[The HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map of Haiti is available at
<http://healthmap.org/r/0d-*>. - Sr.Tech.Ed.MJ]