Over eleven thousand Haitians have been infected with cholera, and over 700 have died. The epidemic is worsening very quickly. Over 80 of the dead have died within the last 24 hours as of this writing. The resources needed to deal with this are not available, apparently because cholera in Haiti is not as interesting or sympathy garnering as an earthquake in Haiti.
From Medecines Sans Frontiers:
Over the past three days, MÃ©decins Sans FrontiÃ¨res (MSF) medical teams supporting Haitian Ministry of Public Health facilities and working in their own independent medical structures in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, have treated more than 200 people suffering from severe diarrhea, a clinical symptom consistent with cholera.
Even if very few of those cases have been confirmed as vibrio cholera through laboratory analysis, the severe symptoms of the patients treated in these facilities is extremely concerning. MSF staff are treating all cases according to standard cholera treatment protocols, with oral or intravenous rehydration and antibiotics as necessary.
At all of MSF’s own four facilities in Port-au-Prince, teams have treated an increasing number of suspected cases since Saturday, November 6. These facilities have more than 300 beds already set aside for treatment in cholera treatment centers (CTCs). MSF is currently constructing an additional 320-bed CTC in the Sarthe neighborhood, where the organization already maintains a post-operative care facility.
“The increasing numbers of cases of suspected cholera in our facilities throughout Port-au-Prince are certainly alarming,” said Stefano Zannini, MSF head of mission in Haiti. “Cholera is a highly treatable and preventable disease, especially once symptomatic patients are treated in a controlled, isolated environment like a CTC. The presence of CTCs in cholera-affected areas can relieve pressure on local hospitals and health structures, greatly reducing the risk of infection among pre-existing inpatients and the wider community.”
Cholera is a bacterial infection (Vibrio cholerae) of the small intestines, causing uncontrollable diarrhea and/or vomiting. It is acquired mainly through contaminated water or food, and without proper treatment can be fatal.
Treating cholera is actually pretty easy. All you need to do is replace contaminated water and food with clean water and food, supply liquids, mainly in the form of oral re-hydration mix, supply intravenous fluids if necessary, and in some cases, administer antibiotics.
However, in some places, people are reintroducing cholera into the water supply on a regular basis because there is not a clear distinction between effluence and water supply. In some places, there is no clean water or uncontaminated food, and re-hydration mix is unheard of and there is no chance of getting antibiotics.
But really, letting people die in large numbers of cholera these days is only possible if we as a society more or less want it to happen. The epidemic going on Haiti right now can only happen because we are letting it happen.
Maybe this will help. There is a story out there suggesting that CHOLERA IN HAITI MAY SPREAD TO THE UNITED STATES.
If you want to help, consider these secular organizations: