Sunday, October 24, 2010

Haiti: It's Cholera

"Cholera Outbreak Hits Haiti, Nearly 200 Dead"
FOXNews (October 22, 2010)

"A cholera epidemic spread in central Haiti on Friday as aid groups rushed doctors and supplies to fight the country's worst health crisis since January's earthquake. Nearly 200 deaths had been confirmed and more than 2,000 people were ill.

"The first two cases of the disease outside the rural Artibonite region were confirmed in Arcahaie, a town that is closer to the quake-devastated capital, Port-au-Prince.

"Officials are concerned the outbreak could reach the squalid tarp camps where hundreds of thousands of quake survivors live in the capital...."

The situation in Haiti isn't good. Many folks are living in camps, after their homes were destroyed in the earthquake earlier this year.

Back to the article:

"...'You cannot say it is because of the earthquake, but because of the earthquake the situation here requires a high level of attention in case the epidemic extends,' said Michel Thieren, a program officer for the Pan-American Health Organization.

"Cholera is a bacterial infection spread through contaminated water. It causes severe diarrhea and vomiting that can lead to dehydration and death within hours...."

The family of one of the fatalities in Haiti had been drinking water from a river that flows down from the island's central plateau. The river tests positive for cholera.

Adding another level of trouble, Haiti has a presidential election coming up. That gives the country's leadership unpleasant options.

They can go ahead with the elections. Which will encourage folks to travel and crowd together at polling locations. There's a good chance that the cholera will spread farther, faster, that way. And the current government will probably be blamed.

They can postpone the elections. Which will probably fray nerves even more in an already stressed-out country. Losing the next election might be a best-case scenario if the elections don't happen on schedule.

Either way, it looks like more folks are going to die of cholera.

There's an effort on to deal with the situation, though:

"...Meanwhile, the government and the international community have stepped up public awareness campaigns on best sanitation practices and started to deliver bottled water and bars of soap."
(Miami Herald)

Related post:In the news:More about Haiti, including a list of charities:

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