PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti: Already reeling from the passage of Tomas, which claimed seven lives, the nation’s cholera outbreak has risen to over 500 victims and prompted fears that it may have reached Port-au-Prince.
Dr. Kara Gibson of the American charity Samaritan’s Purse said that some people in Port-au-Prince’s largest slum have symptoms of the disease after the nation’s Ministry of Health said 501 persons had died from the disease.
The ministry said that more than 7,000 people have been infected across the country with the disease, which is caused by bacteria transmitted through contaminated water or food.
It causes diarrhea and vomiting, leading to severe dehydration, but can kill quickly. It is treated easily through rehydration and antibiotics.
Dr. Gibson said patients in the slum of Cite Soleil, in Port-au-Prince, have a more severe form of watery diarrhea and fears that the disease will now spread even faster, despite humanitarian efforts to stem it.
“Now that it is in Cite Soleil, you can expect to see it just explode,” she said, adding that the “hospital in that area is already at capacity”.
Last weekend, the Haitian government and the United Nations appealed to donors for nearly US$19 million to cover urgent humanitarian needs.