More than 700 dead in Haitian cholera outbreak
Survivors of earthquake now fall prey to insidious disease
A massive earthquake left much of the Caribbean nation of Haiti in ruins last January. Survivors crawled from the rubble to seek temporary shelter in tent cities. Now - due to the unsanitary living conditions of these temporary shelters, hundreds of Haitians are falling prey to cholera, a water-borne disease that weakens, dehydrates - and if left untreated - kills its victims.
Cholera's symptoms can be mild to nonexistent -- but when it is severe, victims suffer profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting and leg cramps, which can cause rapid loss of body fluids and lead to dehydration and shock.
LOS ANGELES, CA Catholic Online) - The death toll in Haiti's cholera outbreak has climbed to 796 people, according to Haiti's Ministry of Public Health and Population. Another 12,303 people have fallen sick with the intestinal infection.
Epidemiologists predict the outbreak could last for months and say the entire nation of 10 million people is at risk. The United Nations warned that Haiti is facing one of the most severe outbreaks of the disease in the past 100 years, and has appealed to international donors for almost $164 million in emergency funds.
Most alarming are four confirmed cases that originated in the tent cities of Port-au-Prince. Health officials fear that infection could spread quickly in congested, filthy conditions and in impoverished neighborhoods where clean drinking water is at a premium.
Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine. The disease can be mild to nonexistent -- but when it is severe, victims suffer profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting and leg cramps, which can cause rapid loss of body fluids and lead to dehydration and shock. If left untreated, a person can die within hours.
American Red Cross workers have been going from tent to tent in the camps, telling people of the importance of drinking clean water and outlining practices that can help avoid contamination. Spokeswoman Julie Sell says they have been handing out bars of soap. "Wash between your fingers," they tell the camp residents. "Don't dry your hand with a dirty towel.
"We find among many people there is very little understanding on how you prevent it," Sell said.
"Haiti has had more than its share of bad luck," Sell said. "This is another crisis that this country does not need. It's heartbreaking."
Haiti has not seen cholera in more than 50 years, and it's yet another unfamiliar hardship for citizens and medical personnel. The country's public health system, already strained before the earthquake, was virtually wiped out after January 12, according to the United Nations.
"Now you have the prospect of tens of thousands of cholera patients streaming into the system," Sell said. "That will be difficult."
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Haiti, cholera, outbreak, epidemic
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Americas News
- Why isn't the media covering what's happening in Brazil?
- Nicaragua approves plan to build canal between the Pacific and Caribbean with China
- Growing clout of evangelical churches in Catholic Brazil gaining new ground
- Mexican Army rescues hundreds from house of horrors
- Mormon woman sent to Mexican prison in horrifying drug case
- Is the 'human cost' in the war on drugs too high?
- High-tech Indiana Jones team discovers the fabled lost city of Ciudad Blanca
- Has the lost 'White City of gold' been found at last?
- Why did the world's laziest workers destroy a treasured Mayan pyramid?
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?