Cholera: Inevitable Spread to Port-au-Prince

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Still, according to Frederica Nogarotto, a Doctors Without Borders coordinator in St.-Marc, health missions in Haiti seemed unprepared for cholera, since the country seemed to have eradicated the disease generations ago.

Simple Prevention Methods for Best Results

Cholera victims suffer from severe dehydration caused by diarrhea. If left untreated, it leads quickly to organ failure and death.

The Pan-American Health Organization reported Friday that it kept 750,000 rehydration salts in stock to treat 100,000 cases of acute diarrhea, IV doses to treat 4,000 cases, and 300,000 courses of antibiotics -- all previously reserved at the Port-au-Prince airport.

According to Ivers, Haiti's Ministry of Health plans to erect three posts in Port-au-Prince to combat the levels of cholera cases. One post will provide patients with mild cases of diarrhea access to oral rehydration salts. Another post will offer intravenous fluids for the next level of cases; and cholera centers will house most severe cases.

Cholera can be prevented through personal hygiene and clean sources of water. Two oral vaccines also exist to prevent the disease.

"There's no room for error here," said Hotez. "You need to intervene immediately."

The focus among many health care workers is to treat cases and enforce more simple prevention methods.

The Pan-American Health Organization is considering offering the vaccine to health care workers, Andrus told Besser on Friday.

However, Andrus said limited supply of the vaccine and limited resources to ensure the population received both doses of the vaccine would make it difficult to immunize the general population.

The cholera vaccine is administered in two doses one week apart. However it takes nearly three weeks for the vaccine to take effect, said Mitz. It's "unlikely" the vaccine will help in Haiti, he said.

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