Since a cholera epidemic began in Haiti in 2010, the disease has killed more than 8,300 people in that country. The bacteria that cause cholera may be settling in for good in Haiti, and meanwhile, its swath of destruction appears to be widening to other countries, researchers reported about a week ago.
The cholera epidemic that surfaced in October 2010 was the first to hit Haiti during modern times, but now appears unlikely to be the last, Dr. Glenn Morris, director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida, said during a presentation.
The cholera bacterium, Vibrio cholera, lives in water, particularly in estuaries or slightly salty aquatic environments. Under the right conditions, such as warm temperatures, these bacteria multiply and infect people who use the water.
It appears that this strain of cholera may be staying in Haiti permanently, Morris said.
Historical records indicate cholera has been with humans for at least a millennium.
“In many ways, it’s a simple disease,” Morris said. Cholera causes severe diarrhea, which leads to dangerous dehydration and potentially death. But it is easy to treat. A fluid mixture containing salt and sugar is used to replace 1.5 times the volume of diarrhea, he said.
Recently I wrote about the lawsuit against UN from cholera victims in Haiti. They claim that UN workers brought the disease to the country. We will see where that end up.
Some good news from Haiti.
The Philadelphia Zoo in 2010 set out to save some of Haiti’s endemic frogs that live in the fading forests. They captured 154 frogs from nine species and brought them back to Philadelphia to establish a captive breeding program. They have been very successful in their rescue program. Sad with the fading forest however. Full story here.
Note, this frog was captured by me in Haiti, but does live in the capital of Port-au-Prince.