Cholera Outbreak Prompts Calls for Haitian Aid
A recent outbreak of cholera in Haiti has prompted pleas for aid. The infection that can be lethal has overcrowded hospitals from symptoms of acute diarrhea and dehydration. The biggest concern from Haitian officials is that the disease will spread. The need is for more medical help and clean drinking water.
There are 1.3 million people living in crowded conditions in Haiti that could easily spread cholera, leading to widespread sickness and death. In a Reuter’s video, Haiti's Prime Minister says the government is trying hard to find the source of the disease. Video images show infants, children and adults lining hospital corridors, being treated on hospital floors and waiting outside for treatment.
According to CNN, the cholera outbreak happened quickly. Within 48 hours 135 deaths from cholera had been reported.
The infection spreads rapidly. The last outbreak was in 1960. Treatment includes rapid re-hydration including drinking clean or water or intravenous fluids when needed. The disease was an anticipated possibility following Haiti’s earthquake. In March, the Centers for Disease Control noted that cholera was absent from the Caribbean, but historically outbreaks occur following disasters.
In 2005, 20,000 in Pakistan were stricken with watery diarrhea, a hallmark symptom of the infection.
Following the Haiti earthquake, the CDC noted, “Transmission of acute watery diarrhea occurs through consumption of sewage-contaminated water or food, contact with contaminated environmental surfaces, or direct person-to-person spread in conditions of poor hygiene. All of these routes of transmission exist in post-earthquake Haiti. Current problems with water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure will be exacerbated during the rainy season, when contact with contaminated standing water and sewage run-off will be common.”
Cholera Treatment Difficult in Haiti
Reports from CNN indicate supplies are available for the next few days to manage cholera treatment and health volunteers have been 'rapidly mobilized". Health facilities are limited and basic services are lacking, as has been always been the case in Haiti.
Charles Henri Baker, a Haitian Presidential candidate says field hospitals, doctors and nurses are needed - "We need help and we need quick help".
Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of "Food for the Poor", says 169 have died from the cholera outbreak and 1500 are in hospitals. Mahfood says the group is sending 3 containers of drinking water and personal hygiene products to Port -Au-Prince, including 7 water chlorination units to provide 30,000 gallons of clean drinking water a day for Haitians. Other supplies being sent includ Pedialyte, Gator Ade, vaccinations and blankets. Without clean drinking water, the chances that the outbreak could be contained are slim.