Haiti, Oct 25 (): Health officials are preparing for a large scale outbreak of cholera in the earth quake hit region of Haiti where the outbreak has already killed 253 people and left more than 3,000 sick. Now there is raising fear that cholera could spread to the city of Port-au-Prince.
Sanitation efforts and quarantine areas are being setup and bottled water is being dispatched in truckloads to affected areas. About 17% of Haitians did not have access to clean water even prior to the earth quake. The region close to the Port-au-Prince where more than a million earth quake survivors live in sprawling tent cities is now at risk of cholera outbreak. The area is known to have very bad hygienic conditions as people are living in very impoverished conditions.
A UN spokeswoman has informed CNN that the confirmation of five cholera cases in Haiti’s capital is a very worrying development. The five patients have been isolated and are being treated.
“I think the only responsible thing we can do at the moment is prepare and plan for the worst case scenario,” Imogen Wall, spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Haiti, told CNN. She also informed that they have good supplies but are short on medical personnel.
“It’s not difficult to prevent the spread to Port-au-Prince. We can prevent it,” said Health Ministry director Gabriel Timothee.
Cholera can kill within few hours of attack. Severe dehydration can result from vomiting and diarrhea caused by cholera. Cholera is a preventable disease. However a massive outbreak could pose challenges with logistics and putting together the response team appropriately to treat patients in time.
Haiti was devastated by a massive earth quake on January 12, early this year which left millions displaced, several of who live in temporary shelter even today. Haitians have been advised to wash hands and avoid washing vegetables after scooping up standing water.
Cholera spreads by contaminated drinking water or food. In epidemic conditions, the contamination starts from the feces of an infected person and spreads rapidly due to poor sewage treatment.