Hurricane Isaac left a path of flooding, displaced citizens, damaged crops and livestock in its wake as it passed through the southeast, west and Artibonite regions of Haiti. Twenty-four people have been confirmed dead. While CFTC’s partners and field office staff are reporting no injuries or damage, the real concern many Haitians are now facing is the fear of another cholera outbreak.
Cholera is a waterborne disease that spreads through contaminated water. It is an acute diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated, but the World Health Organization reports that 80 per cent of cases can be successfully treated with oral rehydration salts, and continued access to clean water and proper sanitation.
The disease was introduced to the country following the January 2010 earthquake. At the peak of the cholera outbreak in 2010, over 2,400 Haitians suffering from cholera were arriving at medical clinics daily. On September 8, a Toronto Star report stated that Haiti, which has a population of only 10 million, has had more cases of cholera than all of Africa. In 2009, the year before cholera was introduced to Haiti, there were 221,000 reported cases of cholera and 4,950 deaths globally, but in total in 2010 and 2011, Haiti has seen more than 586,000 cases and 7,500 deaths.
While these numbers have been on the decrease since the 2010 outbreak, the United Nations Peacekeeping mission in Haiti has reported a slight rise in cholera cases since Hurricane Isaac passed through the country, with 180 new cases of cholera being reported between August 24 and 29, 2012.
Due to Haiti’s lack of proper sanitation infrastructure for a large portion of the country, during the rainy season – or when a hurricane strikes – latrines and rivers tend to overflow, causing widespread breeding grounds for the bacteria which causes the disease. CFTC will continue to monitor the situation in Haiti and keep you apprised of updates.