Deadly Cholera Arrives in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

World Concern’s director of international health expects more people with cholera to arrive in Port-au-Prince in the coming days, bringing the infection to the crowded capital from rural communities.

A Haitian resident suffering from cholera waits for medical treatment at a local hospital in the Marchand Dessaline zone, about 36 km (22 miles) from the town of Saint Marc, October 22, 2010. REUTERS/St-Felix Evens

The World Health Organization says five people with Cholera have been located in Port-au-Prince so far; all have been isolated and are receiving treatment.

“It is coming,” says Dr. Paul Robinson. “People get on a bus to go to the capital and try to get better”.

Cholera Fact Sheet

While most of the 200 deaths in this new epidemic have occurred about 50 miles north of Port-au-Prince, new cases are closer, about 30 miles from the capital, according to AP reports. The UN says nearly 2,400 people are sick.

Robinson has briefed World Concern Haiti staff about prevention and is now planning next steps.

Our initial plan:

  1. In advance of any potential spread in Port-au-Prince, educate earthquake victims about prevention and self-treatment.
  2. Construct “Cholera Cots” for patients. Isolating those with cholera is important. These cots are equipped with pans to collect diarrhoeal waste.
  3. Readying medical supplies for the potential large number of patients, mainly to rehydrate those with severe symptoms.

People with cholera suffer from severe dehydration because of diarrhea. Left untreated, a patient may emit up to 10 liters of fluid a day.

Cholera is spread primarily through contaminated drinking water or food.

“Because Haiti hasn’t seen a Cholera epidemic in a long while, people don’t know how this works,” Robinson said.

World Concern Haiti Country Director Christon Domond has activated the humanitarian organization’s health committee to respond.

“This is real,” Domond said. “Pray for Haiti, the situation is really complex.”

The WHO stresses that Port-au-Prince is not a new location for infection. A representative says this is a worrying, but not unexpected development.

About 1,000,000 people remain homeless in Haiti after the Jan. 12 earthquake, which killed 230,000.

Since that time, World Concern has served more than 100,000 through emergency disaster support or long-term rebuilding of homes and incomes.

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Learn more about our Haiti response

Cholera Prevention and Treatment – includes details on “Cholera Cots”: PDF or Word document