Haiti Cholera Update #5

Updated information on cholera deaths and cases from the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) or any of the other usual sources has been lacking this morning. Evidently MSPP (Ministère de la Santé Publique et de la Population) has not issued any reports in the last day or so. As of 30 October 2010, via PAHO, MSPP reports 337 deaths and 4,764 cases since the epidemic began. This represents a crude mortality rate of 7.1%. Cholera promptly treated has a mortality rate of 1-2%. I will update this today if more recent figures become available.

Tropical Storm Tomas is expected to regain hurricane strength before potentially striking Haiti’s southern coast early Friday morning. There is, the U. S. National Hurricane Center notes, “considerable uncertainty” about the hurricane’s strength at landfall. Meanwhile DPC (Direction de la Protection Civile — Civil Protection Office) has begun mobilizing resources. The immediate needs are staggering:

The DPC and the humanitarian community are using the planning figure of 100,000 families (500,000 people) to be affected by the hurricane in the west and southern departments.  The humanitarian community has assessed its current stock of available material and the following gaps have been identified:

  • Tarpaulins: 150,000
  • Field tents: 200
  • Blankets: 100,000
  • Jerry cans: 150,000
  • Bars of soap: 90,000
  • Water purification tablets: at least 90,000
  • Hygiene kits: 90,000
  • Buckets: 90,000
  • Emergency kits to supply 10,000 people for 3 months: 4
  • Oral rehydration salt sachets: 200,000
  • Chainsaws to cut trees
  • Water bladders: number to be determined

HaitiLibre is reporting voluntary evacuations have begun. The website notes dryly, “An evacuation may be complicated by the presence of the cholera epidemic in the Artibonite and plateau Central.” Also, disturbingly: “‘We have launched an appeal for voluntary evacuation, particularly in the camps,’ said Alta Jean-Baptiste, the director of the Haiti’s Civil Protection Office. ‘We have plans to evacuate the camps but we won’t be able to evacuate everybody.'”

Regarding the mortality rate, HaitiLibre notices a gap:

The average rate of deaths on the number of people infected (recognized cases) (1) between October 24 (assessment # 1) and October 30 (assessment # 8) is of 7.42 %, a rate abnormally high if one refers to the figures released by WHO. In 2008, about 56 countries (190.130 cases reported) 5.143 deaths reported (2.7% morality rate). WHO estimates on its website that the real between assessment of cholera in the world, amounting to 3 to 5 million cases and between 100,000 and 120,000 deaths per year (a mortality rate between 2.4 and 3.33%).

(But read the whole thing.)

Via H1n1, a physician’s account in Cité Soleil:

I have not checked one child who had a history consistent with cholera.

There are no confirmed cases of pediatric cholera in Saint Catherine’s Hospital in Soleil either. We admit our sickest kids to this hospital which lies across a field from the pediatric clinic.

However, the kids seems sicker than usual. Lots of malnutrition, diarrhea, fever, colds.

And we have about 5 documented cases of malaria each week at the clinic in the back of Soleil.

Port-au-Prince and its slums do not need a cholera epidemic. I can’t hardly think of a worse nightmare. Haiti is beyond fragile at this point and the people are suffering more than I have ever seen.

Media reports on the epidemic here.

More resources:

Haiti: Operational Biosurveillance (Twitter)

H5N1

HaitiLibre (English) (français) (Twitter — English and French)

Mediahacker: Independent multimedia reporting from Haiti (Twitter)

PAHO’s Haiti Cholera page. (PAHO Situation Reports and other documentation.) (Blog.)

On the ground, good sources of information and of course needing donations:

Partners in Health (Twitter).

Médecins sans frontières

[UPDATE: minor puncutation correction]

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  1. Best In Nurse Blogs: Fall Back Edition | The Millionaire Nurse Blog
  2. Haiti Cholera Update #5 « Sister Sage's Musings

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