Haiti’s Cholera Claims over 900

In Americas, Diseases & Mutations, News Headlines

Health officials in Haiti are warning the deadly cholera outbreak, which has killed more than 900 people, is intensifying.

The disease has also infected at least 14,000 more people in the past month, but officials say that number could rise exponentially now the disease has reached the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Hundreds of thousands of survivors from the January earthquake are still living there in makeshift accommodation.

So far only 27 people have died in the capital, but Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) says the epidemic shows no sign of abating.

Piles of garbage fill some streets in the capital, making it even harder for health officials to stop outbreaks.

The north-west region of Artibonite has been hardest hit by the wave of cholera, where Herione Louis joined thousands of people seeking help from a clinic with the capacity to treat 28.

“The cholera has been affecting my neighbour every day and it was yesterday that I got infected with the disease,” he said.

“At first I came with one member of her family and while I am here at the hospital, I realised that my entire family is admitted here.”

Once cholera contaminates water, it spreads fast. In theory it should not be fatal, but some people who cannot get adequate help quickly become dehydrated and die within hours.

Hospital administrator Elise Dor says things got a lot worse after heavy rain caused rivers to burst their banks.

“Within the first week of the epidemic the hospital received about 10 cases per day, but after Hurricane Tomas things have degenerated and we have been receiving more than 100 cases daily,” she said.

“Today we registered 1,155 cases and 25 of these cases have already died. Today 97 patients are hospitalised.”

Aid group Save the Children said 40 per cent of those who have died were not in a clinic or a hospital, suggesting they had no treatment or had not recognised the symptoms.

The UN is asking for $164 million, saying aid efforts could be “overrun by the epidemic” without urgent global financial assistance.

As if rebuilding and containing an epidemic were not enough, in a fortnight Haitians are due to vote for a new president.

Political candidates acknowledge the situation is not favourable but they are insisting the election goes ahead as scheduled.

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