Cholera Outbreak in Fond-des-Blancs

November 25, 2015

Outbreak in southern Haiti illustrates that cholera is still a significant problem in the country.

FOND-DES-BLANCS, HAITI: A new outbreak of cholera in communities along the Cote de Fer river represents the first significant outbreak of the disease in the region in four years. But cholera has remained at significant pandemic levels across Haiti since first introduced to the country in 2010.

On the afternoon of November 11, 2015, the St. Boniface Hospital in Fond-des-Blancs, Haiti received 8 patients with symptoms of diarrheal disease. Four of these patients were quickly confirmed to have cholera. All of the patients came from communities along the Cote de Fer river to the east of Fond-des-Blancs.

By November 25th the outbreak has grown to 57 confirmed cases of cholera, with an additional 15 suspected cases.  This is the largest outbreak in St. Boniface Hospital’s catchment area since 2012.

In response to the outbreak, St. Boniface Hospital has set up isolation tents to treat patients and implemented infection control protocols around the perimeter of the treatment area to avoid spreading cholera within the hospital population.

St. Boniface has also dispatched its Community Health teams to the affected areas beginning on November 12, providing education, water treatment kits, and oral rehydration salts to begin treatment as soon as new cases are suspected

St. Boniface Haiti Foundation President and CEO, Conor Shapiro says, “Cholera has plagued Haiti since 2010. This new outbreak along the Cotes de Fer river shows that the pandemic is far from over. St. Boniface Haiti Foundation’s model of integrated community and hospital-based healthcare is fighting the disease on all fronts, but there is much work left to be done to end the danger from cholera in Haiti.” ;

Dr. Milian talking to 3 men
Dr. Miliane Clermont, Deputy Director of St. Boniface Hospital, meeting with local community members about cholera education and prevention methods. 

Background

Cholera was first identified in Haiti soon after the 2010 earthquake, when the first cases were identified in the Artibonite River delta in October, 2010. The outbreak quickly spread to epidemic proportions, with over 744,000 cases reported and 8,825 deaths since 2010. (UN OCHA statistics) The original outbreak has been tracked back to a UN Peacekeepers’ camp.

The cholera pandemic in Haiti has continued to be a mostly silent and highly ignored tragedy since the initial epidemic ebbed, leading the global public to assume that the crisis had ended. The current outbreak in the Fond-des-Blancs area is just one example of the continued problems. There were nearly 20,000 cases reported between January and July of this year alone, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – a 258% increase in infection from the previous year.