Haiti urges caution as cholera death toll climbs

Aid groups are fighting hard to keep the disease out of Haiti`s teeming refugee camps.

Last Updated: Oct 27, 2010, 13:48 PM IST

Arcahaie: Haiti reported 25 more cholera deaths as officials warned the epidemic was not yet over, and aid groups fought to keep the disease out of the capital`s teeming refugee camps.

With 284 known deaths and 3,612 infections, the first cholera outbreak in quake-hit Haiti in more than a century has stabilized in recent days but the situation is still grave.

In Arcahaie, a small coastal town south of the outbreak`s epicenter in the central Artibonite River region, 24-year-old Jacklin Anore lay on a bed in a darkened room of the Nicolas Armand hospital with a bucket by his side.

Barely able to raise his head, hooked up on a rehydration drip, he intermittently spat into a rusted bed pan and whispered thanks to the nurse who poured water over his head.

Patients have died here, but as in the case in Saint-Marc further north where most of the ill have flocked, doctors say the number of new cases is easing.

Signs urging residents in Port-au-Prince to clean their hands and take care with drinking water appeared in recent days, as the government seeks to keep the epidemic from reaching crowded urban areas, and the tent camps that have housed hundreds of thousands of people since the disastrous January earthquake.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which has eight facilities open to cholera infections in Artibonite and around the capital, said that despite the fewer deaths the need for vigilance remains.
Around 450 patients were treated on each of the last two days for oral or intravenous rehydration at the MSF-supported Saint Nicholas Hospital in Saint-Marc.

An isolation unit has been established there for the most severe cases, but the aid group said fewer and fewer patients were arriving in such dire condition as before.
"The fact that we are seeing fewer severe cases is positive," said Federica Nogarotto, the MSF field coordinator in Saint-Marc.

"It suggests that people are taking precautions and that there is a greater understanding in the community of the need to maintain strict hygiene and to seek medical assistance at the first sign of symptoms."

Bureau Report