The United Nations and its Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon have been slapped with a lawsuit citing negligence for introducing cholera to Haiti after it sent rescue workers from Nepal to a base along the banks of a tributary for the Artibonite River after the earthquake in 2010. The Artibonite is Haiti’s longest waterway and principle source of water for tens of thousands of people there. Raw sewage and untreated human waste from the UN camp ended up being discharged into the River.
According to papers filed in Federal Court in Manhattan by five Haitian and Haitian-Americans, whose family members died from the disease, “the UN failed to exercise reasonable care in deploying personnel from Nepal to Haiti knowing that Nepal was a country in which cholera is endemic and where a surge in infections had just been reported.”
As a result 8,500 Haitians died from cholera, while 679,000 more were sickened by the disease.
Cholera(often referred to as “blue death" because the skin turning a bluish-gray hue from extreme loss of fluid) is an infection of the small intestine caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, and is spread by consuming drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated by the feces. The main symptoms are profuse diarrhea (up to 5 gallons a day) and vomiting of clear fluid beginning anywhere from 12 hours to 5 days after contamination. This can lead to swift dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, resulting in death if untreated.
According to WHO, approximately “3–5 million people are infected with cholera each year, resulting in 100,000–130,000 (based on 2010 figures).