Some 300 dead as cholera-hit Haiti prepares for worst

A cholera outbreak has killed nearly 300 people in Haiti.

Last Updated: Oct 28, 2010, 12:44 PM IST

Port-Au-Prince: A cholera outbreak which has killed nearly 300 people in Haiti has yet to run its course, according to officials here who on Wednesday said 500 more people had been hospitalised with the virulent illness.

A total of 4,147 people are now being treated in hospitals for cholera, said the head of Haiti`s health department Gabriel Thimote, while eight new reported fatalities brought the death toll 292.

The World Health Organisation warned meanwhile that the outbreak had yet to reach its peak, and said the Caribbean nation should prepare for the disease to hit the capital Port-au-Prince, still teeming with squalid tent cities built after January`s massive earthquake.

"We cannot say it is contained," Claire-Lise Chaignat, the World Health Organisation`s cholera chief, told journalists, disputing reports from Haiti that the outbreak was tapering off.

"I think we haven`t reached the peak," she said, recommending that Haitian authorities prepare for the "worst case scenario" -- cholera in the capital.

Some 1.3 million people displaced by January`s earthquake are still crammed into thousands of makeshift camps dotted around the capital, and aid agencies have voiced fears that cholera could spread like wildfire in such conditions.
More than 3,600 people have been infected in the impoverished Caribbean nation since last week, although the WHO`s cholera experts remain mystified by the origins of the epidemic.

"We are very surprised to see the epidemic in Haiti. We have never found cholera there before," Chaignat told journalists in Geneva.
Meanwhile rumours swirled this week that cholera-carrying Nepalese troops with the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti (Minustah) were the source of the outbreak.

The mission rushed to deny the claims, insisting the mission "uses seven septic tanks" situated far away from the river.

Bureau Report