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Cholera death toll in Haiti jumps to 250
Port-au-Prince, Oct 24 (Agencies):
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Published on 25 Oct. 2010 12:07 AM IST
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The death toll from a cholera outbreak in Haiti has leapt past 250, officials say. More than 3,000 people were infected, said Gabriel Thimote, director general of Haiti’s health department.
Five cases of cholera were detected in the capital, Port-au-Prince, but UN officials said the patients had been quickly diagnosed and isolated.
Around a million survivors of January’s earthquake are living in tents near the city with poor sanitary conditions.
But Mr Thimote expressed optimism the outbreak could be contained.
“We have registered a diminishing in numbers of deaths and of hospitalised people in the most critical areas,” he said.
“The tendency is that it is stabilising, without being able to say that we have reached a peak.”
Health officials have been trying to contain the outbreak in areas north of the capital.
The five victims isolated in Port-au-Prince had become infected in the Artibonite region - the main outbreak zone - and then travelled to the capital where they developed symptoms, the UN’s humanitarian affairs agency said.
This meant Port-au-Prince was “not a new location of infection”, it added.
Aid officials have described the prospect of a cholera outbreak in the city as “awful”.
Those in the camps are highly vulnerable to the intestinal infection, which is caused by bacteria transmitted through contaminated water or food.
Intestinal infection caused by bacteria transmitted through contaminated water or food Source of contamination usually faeces of infected people Causes diarrhoea, vomiting, severe dehydration, and can kill quickly Easily treated with antibiotics; not usually fatal Cholera causes diarrhoea and vomiting leading to severe dehydration, and can kill quickly if left untreated though rehydration and antibiotics.
With 2,674 cases of the disease reported, health officials have been trying to contain the outbreak in Artibonite and Central Plateau.
They said they had stepped up disease prevention measures and surveillance at the tent camps, and sent medical teams north to treat those infected so they did not travel to the capital to seek help.
Ms Wall said officials were also identifying sites in Port-au-Prince for tent clinics, where patients could be treated away from other people.
“If we have cases in Port-au-Prince, the only way to contain them is to isolate them,” she said. “Obviously, preventing the disease spreading to the city is an absolutely paramount concern right now.”
This is the first time in a century that cholera has struck the Caribbean nation Earlier on Saturday, the chairman of the US-based charity, Board of Trustees of Food for the Poor, warned that the Haitian authorities and international organisations had not moved quickly enough to contain the outbreak.“Right now, it’s been over 72 hours. There is no safety cordon,” Daniel Rouzier told Reuters. “If the sick had the proper healthcare where they were, they wouldn’t have come to this chaotic city.”
“There is still time to react. If the proper actions are taken, I think we will be able to limit the number of people who die.”
Meanwhile, officials confirmed that 194 people had died of cholera in Artibonite, and another 14 in Central Plateau.
The worst-hit areas were Douin, Marchand Dessalines and areas around Saint-Marc, about 100km (60 miles) north of Port-au-Prince. But a number of cases have also been reported in the city of Gonaives, and towns closer to the capital, including Archaei, Limbe and Mirebalais

 
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