Cholera Blamed For At Least 138 Deaths In Haiti; Doctors Await Test Results

October 22, 2010 7:22 am 0 comments

The Haitian town of St. Marc in 2004.

Today in Latin America

Top Story — A suspected outbreak of Cholera in central Haiti has killed at least 138 people and sickened hundreds more in an overcrowded hospital.

Patients have been suffering from severe diarrhea, which is a symptom of cholera, but health workers are still waiting for tests results to be certain. Doctors at the hospital in St. Marc tested patients for cholera, typhoid and other illnesses in what is the deadliest outbreak of disease in Haiti since January’s devastating earthquake.

Haitian health authorities informed the World Health Organization (WHO) of 138 deaths and 1,526 cases so far in the outbreak centered in the Lower Artibonite region, north of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

Haitian health specialists and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta are investigating the source of the outbreak and the government has trucked in thousands of gallons of water.

“We have not received any confirmation on what is causing an increase of diarrhea in the lower Artibonite region,” Jessica Duplessi, a spokeswoman with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, according to the Miami Herald. “There has been an increase in cases of severe vomiting and diarrhea, which in particular is quite an epidemic in Haiti. We still don’t know if it’s coming from one central source or not. That is what the doctors and experts are trying to analyze.”

The victims of the disease range in age, but the most affected are the young and the elderly. Some people claim the outbreak is linked to the water in a nearby public canal.

“We just need confirmation of further investigation before we change the labeling and we have a precise diagnosis of the underlying cause,” said Dr. Michel Thieren, senior program management officer with the Pan American Health Organization’s Haiti Office, according to The Miami Herald. “No one can say for sure. We are assisting with all sorts of rumors.”

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