Cholera – Haiti

From October 2, 2022, when the first two confirmed cases of Vibrio cholerae O1 were reported in the Port-au-Prince area (Haiti), to January 1, 2023, the Haitian Ministry of Health reported a total of 22,469 suspected cases of cholera in 10 departments of the country, including 1,561 confirmed cases, 18,729 hospitalized suspected cases, and 452 deaths.

This represents a 15% increase in the number of suspected cases (2,877 cases) and a 9% increase in the number of confirmed cases (134 cases) in the past week, as well as a 25% increase in the number of deaths (89 deaths).

As of January 1, 2023, nine departments had confirmed cases of cholera (Artibonite, Centre, Grand-Anse, Nippes, Nord, Nord-Ouest, Ouest, Sud, and Sud-Est). The case fatality rate among suspected cases is currently 2.0%.

Photo: Vibrio tasmaniensis bacteria, a close relative of Vibrio cholerae.

Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by a bacterial infection. Symptoms may range from none, to mild, to severe. The main risk is severe dehydration, this happens sometimes within hours.

It is spread mostly by unsafe water and unsafe food that has been contaminated with human feces containing the bacteria. Under-cooked seafood is a common source.

Risk factors for the disease include poor sanitation, not enough clean drinking water, and poverty.

Cholera affects an estimated 3–5 million people worldwide and causes 28.800–130.000 deaths a year. Areas with ongoing risk include Africa and South East Asia, where it occurs in outbreaks.

Descriptions of cholera are found as early as the 5th century BC in Sanskrit.

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