Cholera kills 140 in Haiti
Port-au-Prince — A cholera outbreak has killed scores of people in central Haiti, President Rene Preval has confirmed.
At least 140 people have died and 1 000 have been hospitalised by the illness, which causes diarrhoea, acute fever, vomiting and severe dehydration. Preval said his government was taking steps to ensure the disease did not spread further.
Officials fear a higher death toll if the outbreak reaches camps for the survivors of January’s earthquake. The quake killed some 250 000 people and left 1.5 million homeless around the capital Port-au-Prince.
Tens of thousands of people are still living in crowded tent cities with poor sanitation and little access to clean drinking water. Officials believe the outbreak was caused by people drinking infected water from the Artibonite river.
“I can confirm it is cholera,” Preval told Reuters news agency.
“Now we are making sure people are fully aware of precautionary measures they have to take to prevent contamination.”
The director general of the health department, Dr Gabriel Thimote, said the worst-affected areas were Douin, Marchand Dessalines and areas around Saint-Marc, about 100 kilometres north of Port-au-Prince.
Local hospitals were “overwhelmed”, and a number of people were being evacuated to clinics in other areas, he added.
At one point on Thursday, hundreds of people were laid out in the car park of St Nicholas Hospital in Saint-Marc, with intravenous drips in their arms to treat dehydration, until it began to rain and they were rushed inside.
Some patients at the hospital said they became ill after drinking water from a public canal, but others said they had been drinking purified water. (BBC)