Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cholera resurfaces in Haiti, stretches relief efforts

A deadly cholera outbreak that swept the country last fall has returned, fuelled by weeks of heavy rains that have helped spread the waterborne bacteria that has flouirshed in rivers and rice fields.

The treatment centre in Mirebalais, a town lying about an hour's drive north of the capital, Port-au-Prince, is again seeing dozens of new patients a day, many arriving at the edge of death from dehydration.

The centre saw a fivefold jump from April to May and it hasn't let up since, said Louise Ivers, senior health and policy adviser to the U.S.-based Partners in Health, which runs the clinic in association with the Health Ministry.

"When people come here, they're in critical condition, ready to die," said Francole Adonis, who registers the new arrivals at the centre. "They're collapsing in the yard. The situation is horrible."

The number of new cases each day spiked to 1,700 a day in mid-June, three times as many as sought treatment in March, according to the Health Ministry. The daily average dropped back down to about 1,000 a day by the end of June but could surge again as the rainy season develops. (read more)