Nearly 1.3 million Haitians were left homeless and forced to live in makeshift camps following the devastating earthquake of January 12th. Sadly, the camps lack the ability to provide centrally treated drinking water, adequate sanitation, hand washing facilities and health care options.
Prior to the quake, only 17% of Haitians had access to sufficient sanitation according to a CDC report. The events since then have only exacerbated an already dire situation. Today, the camps sheltering Haiti’s earthquake survivors have deteriorated into slums that provide 'ripe conditions' for cholera. The unsanitary conditions in these tented camps give the water-borne disease fertile ground to grow and spread. Infected people endure diarrhea, vomiting, severe dehydration; and many die quickly.
This intestinal infection is caused by bacteria transmitted through contaminated water or food. One source of contamination is the feces of infected people. The first cases of cholera were reported north of Port-au-Prince near the Artibonite River.
To date nearly 1200 people have already died in the countryside and another 100 cases have been confirmed in the capital Port-au-Prince itself. Haiti’s Health Minister believes cholera is a threat to the entire island.
In response, the CDC is working closely with other U.S. government agencies and international partners to control the cholera outbreak and treat the infected. The CDC is collaborating with the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Pan American Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and a host of other organizations to assist the Haiti Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) in a concerted effort to save lives and control the spread of disease.