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Haitian Cholera Outbreak Worsens

Political unrest in Haiti is causing further unsanitary conditions that can quickly spread the deadly disease.


Political unrest in Haiti is further complicating the cholera crisis. And according to an Associated Press report, the source of the outbreak has been narrowed down to a contingent of U.N. peacekeepers likely dumping waste into a tributary. Further lack of sanitation is going to prove an explosive problem here explains today's newsletter from Soil, an organization in Haiti that provides compostable toilets.

Over 1 million people in Port au Prince's sprawling IDP camps are completely dependent on trucked water and clean sanitation facililities to protect them against cholera which is transmitted through water contaminated with infected feces. The services provided by medical facilities and public health employees are critical for containing the epidemic through treating the sick, burying the dead and decontaminating infected areas.


Imagine the implications of several days without sanitation services in Port au Prince. An example, in downtown Port au Prince and Petionville the camps of Place Boyer, Place Saint Pierre and Champs Mars (home to over 15,000 people) rely on approximately 450 portable toilets for sanitation. These toilets are cleaned and emptied daily by a private company. With a small holding capacity and extremely heavy usage, many of these toilets will fill in 1-2 days if not emptied. Two days without desludging and the toilets of Champs Mars could be overflowing with over 5000 pounds of poop per day. Also, recent reports indicate that in downtown Port au Prince portable toilets are being overturned and used as roadblocks, some spilling their contents into the streets where tens of thousands of people have gathered to express their discontent with the CEP and the UN troops.

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The Los Angeles Times reports that over 91,000 cases of Cholera have been confirmed and have left an estimated 2,000 people dead. This outbreak, according to the CDC has spread to every province in the country and is even beginnning to spread into the Dominican Republic. Further destruction of the nation's infrastructure from political unrest will further hinder Haiti's efforts to repair the damage caused by the earthquake and the disease will continue its explosive spread across the country. .

The CDC Mobility and Mortality Weekly Report states that the median number of deaths is 41 people per day and goes on to state

Despite strong responses from MSPP and governments and nongovernmental agencies, the size and speed of this cholera outbreak, combined with the lack of safe water and sanitation infrastructure in Haiti, indicate that further action is urgently needed to reduce cholera transmission and mortality.

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The CDC along with aids groups are calling for additional and for the same attention it received during the earthquake. It is some consolation that Medecin Sans Fronteires teams are on the ground tending to those wounded from the political violence and continuing to work to keep water clean and the cholera contained.

Image: Alcorns Chicken Cholera Powder, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from ooocha's photostream