Sunday, 24 October 2010

Cholera death toll jumps in Haiti

  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 quake are living in tents near the city with poor sanitary conditions.

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.

Cholera causes diarrhoea and vomiting leading to severe dehydration, and can kill quickly if left untreated through rehydration and antibiotics.

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