Cholera in 2015 - Credit OCHA
As Crof already reported overnight (see Haiti: Cholera outbreak puts 15 communes on red alert), there are reports of increased cholera once again in Haiti, more than 5 years after the first outbreak was reported (see MMWR Dispatch: Cholera Outbreak In Haiti).
Although conveying a sense of urgency, details in these latest reports are scant, and the size of these latest outbreaks have yet to be determined. That said, as illustrated in the graphic above, Haiti has seen an increase in cholera cases this year over last, further described (below) in the OCHA’s August update:
Although incidence has decreased since March 2015, the number of reported cases in 2015 is higher than the same period in 2014, with reported deaths following the same trend. From January to August 2015, more than 21,000 cases and 192 deaths were reported. The humanitarian response has continued to improve through surveillance and rapid response undertaken in areas where new cases appeared. Various neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince's metropolitan area continue to be affected due to favorable conditions to cholera transmission such as poor access to safe water and sanitation. The humanitarian community remains in alert in light of the rainy/hurricane season.
Once one of the great disease scourges of the world, cholera now poses a genuine threat to areas which lack basic sanitation, water treatment, and medical facilities. Conditions that not only sadly still exist in some countries, but due to war, poverty, and human displacement, are increasing in some regions.
OCHA’s list of the reasons why cholera hangs on in Haiti after 5 years applies pretty much to the recent outbreaks in Iraq, the Sudan, and Tanzania.
From last night’s OCHA release, we’ve the following description of the latest outbreak – blamed in part on heavy rains and flooding reported in October.
Important outbreaks recorded particularly in western communes and in South East
With the heavy rains of October, the health actors have observed a resurgence of cholera cases in several communes, notably in the departments of Artibonite, West, South East, South and North. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO / WHO), in the situation report from October 18 to 29, affirms that in these departments more than 400 alerts were recorded.
The document indicates that about fifteen communes are on red alert. The situation is more critical in Cite Soleil (91 cases), Marigot (51 cases), St. Mark (36 cases) and Jacmel (33 cases) communes. Humanitarian actors estimate that the untreated water consumption and poor hygiene practices are the causes of transmission of 73 percent of the cases investigated.
Flooding summer rains, which can overrun latrines and inundate septic systems and undermine water treatment efforts, often exacerbate cholera outbreaks. While there can be heavy rains during the winter and spring in Haiti, it is generally a drier time of the year, which may provide some help in bringing this outbreak under control.