Haiti Cholera 779,000 Epidemic Concerns

By: Rob Adams - Staff Writer
Published: Mar 16, 2021

Haiti Cholera 779,000. Haiti is going through a cholera epidemic that could reach 779,000 cases this year alone. The findings are from a new study predicted by the United Nations.

There could be nearly twice as many cases of the potentially deadly diarrheal disease — an estimated 779,000 — between March and November of this year, according to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and Harvard Medical School.

The discrepancy is important because U.N. projections determine the allocation of resources to fight the disease, said the authors of the study, published March 16 in The Lancet.

“The epidemic is not likely to be short-term,” Dr. Sanjay Basu, a UCSF medical resident, said in a university news release. “It is going to be larger than predicted in terms of sheer numbers and will last far longer than the initial projections.”

The cholera epidemic erupted in Haiti after last year’s devastating earthquake. Cholera — spread from person-to-person through contaminated food and water — can be deadly if untreated. In most cases, treatment for the diarrhea caused by the disease involves rehydration with salty liquids.

Late last year, the U.N. projected that a total of 400,000 people in Haiti would eventually become infected with cholera. They reached that total by assuming that cholera would infect 2 to 4 percent of Haiti’s population of 10 million. But the U.N. estimate did not take into account existing disease trends, or factors such as where water was contaminated, how the disease is transmitted, or human immunity to cholera, Basu said.

Basu and colleague Dr. Jason Andrews, a fellow at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, used data from Haiti’s Ministry of Health and other sources to develop a more sophisticated model of the spread of cholera in several provinces in Haiti.


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