Haitians have been struggling to survive a cholera outbreak which hit the island nation after the 2010 earthquake. The World Health Organization notes that cholera can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if treatment is not given quickly. Cholera is caused by ingestion of food or water which is contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. MedPage Today reported on Oct. 15, 2013, "Clean Water, Sanitation Ease Cholera in Haiti."
Researchers have reported clean water and improved sanitation have reduced the rate of cholera in part of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. However, according to Claude-Lyne Valcin, MD, of Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues, such public health interventions will probably not be enough to eradicate the disease. Valcin and colleagues have said the disease is likely to become endemic in Haiti and "will prove a continued threat to its fragile public health system."
Cholera had not been recorded in Haiti for decades before the epidemic hit in the fall of 2010. About 650,000 people have been sickened and 8,300 killed due to this epidemic. Incidence of admission of patients to hospitals has been lower when chlorinated water and portable toilets are available. Cholera has been affecting people of all ages in Haiti, suggesting that universal public health interventions are going to be needed curb the epidemic. Overall it does however appear that public health interventions have been helping to diminish disease transmission.