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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Health

Steve Harrigan

Miami, FL

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Cholera Epidemic in Haiti Highlights Deteriorating Conditions

October 22, 2010 - 1:20 PM | by: Steve Harrigan

In one sense, the cholera epidemic in Haiti comes as a surprise. There has not been such an epidemic in the region for a century. The fact that at least 140 people have died and 1500 are infected is a sign of just how bad conditions have deteriorated since the January earthquake.
Cholera comes from contaminated water or food, often contaminated by feces. In Haiti now more than one million people live in tarps or tents in fields. When it rains the sanitary conditions and the mud are often abysmal.

Cholera can kill someone within a day if untreated from fluid loss through diarrhea and vomiting. The old and the young are most vulnerable.

There is a sense of urgency from both the government and aid groups to get clean water and water filters to the site of the worst outbreak, about 60 miles North of the capital Port au Prince. If the infections were to spread to the massive tent cities around the capital the death toll could rise rapidly.

Right now the infection is an epidemic, but whether that epidemic has peaked or will continue to grow depends on the ability to overcome Haiti’s logistical challenges and get clean water and rehydration tablets to those in need quickly.

Click here for more on the cholera outbreak in Haiti.

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