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Haiti’s cholera epidemic: will it return in 2021?


Gastroenterology & Hepatology: Open Access
Valentine Sanon,1,2,3Frantz Sainvil,1,2,3Aftab A Awan,1,2,3George P Einstein,1,2,3Orien L Tulp1,2,3

Abstract

Cholera is a scourge that has plagued humanity from early times; no era was exempt at different times in history, and the mere mention of cholera in past generations often caused panic among susceptible populations. Now with the recent 7.2 magnitude in Haiti, the question re- emerges: can Haiti’s cholera epidemic return considering the extensive earthquake damage that has recently occurred. Haiti is prone to earthquakes, due to its location along a fault line, and over the centuries has encountered numerous earthquakes, some including the 2010 and 2021 earthquakes of 7.0 or greater magnitude. Cholera has been around for centuries, and in the last century has caused at least 7 devastating global outbreaks each claiming thousands of innocent human lives. Cholera infects 1.3 to 4 million people around the world annually with over 20,000 deaths per year according to the World Health Organization (WHO) statistics. Cholera is a microbial disease of multiclausal origin and fecal-oral transmission, where various biological, environmental, social, political and cultural factors often intervene, thereby presenting complex solutions for what often becomes a public health issue in the broader community. Over 819,000 Haitians became ill with cholera during the years following the 2010 earthquake, with nearly 10,000 deaths reported as a result of one of Haiti’s main waterways accidently becoming contaminated with the highly infectious cholera organism. Considering the severe damages now being reported from the August – 2021 earthquake followed by a severe weather outlook, the potential for a re-emergence of the cholera epidemic may now become a serious public health threat to the island Nation, including the potential risks to other nearby Island nations in the Caribbean and beyond should infected carriers relocate to non-earthquake prone localities. Implementation of effective hygiene measures, including timely medical monitoring and strategic intervention where indicated will be essential to prevent a resurgence of cholera or other public health issues in the coming weeks and months aftermath of the destruction of the roads, structures and public health resources resulting from the recent earthquake in Haiti.

Keywords

World Health Organization, WHO, Cholera, Haiti, earthquakes

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