October 25, 2010

Haiti's cholera outbreak

HEALTH - UPDATE: Health officials say 105 more people have died since Saturday, bringing the total to 442 as of November 3rd.

Haiti is suffering under an outbreak of cholera, a deadly disease which as of last week had killed 253 and hospitalized 3,015. UPDATE: The number hospitalized is now over 5,000. There has been a 40% jump in new cases in the last 5 days.

Aid agencies around the world are fearing the worst, especially with heavy rains and tropical storms this time of year which are making it difficult to send medical aid and doctors. Torrential rainfall means drinking water is contaminated and the population is extremely vulnerable.

On Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control discovered that all the Haitian patients had the same strain of cholera, a strain from South Asia. Its believed foreigners from southern Asia accidentally brought the disease to Haiti following the recent earthquake and it spread rapidly.

Haiti has not seen a cholera outbreak for approx. 50 years and most Haitians don't know what to do to prevent the disease. Poor sanitary conditions due to Earthquake is the biggest cause since the bacteria is transmitted through contaminated water or food.

Not everyone has been hospitalized. The total number of cases stands at 6,742 (November 3rd).

Cholera causes diarrhoea, vomiting, severe dehydration, and kills within 24 hours if left untreated.

Treatment involves rehydration and antibiotics, which is why medical aid is so important.

The January 12th 2010 Haiti Earthquake killed 230,000 people and devastated Haiti's capitol Port-au-Prince.

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