The DEC is extremely concerned about a cholera outbreak which has killed 138 people in the Artibonite region of central Haiti, north of the country’s earthquake-devastated capital Port-au-Prince.
Cholera causes acute watery diahorrea, which helps it spread very quickly. If untreated, over half of patients can die of dehydration, often within hours. Fortunately, the disease can usually be treated with oral rehydration therapy which is cheap and very effective. Ensuring proper hygiene and providing clean water is absolutely essential to prevent the spread of the disease.
DEC members are already working in Artibonite and will be involved in planning to deal with any outbreaks elsewhere in the country. Substantial improvements to water supply and sanitation have been made in many camps in Port-au-Prince by DEC member agencies and others. However, overcrowding and other limits on the improvements that can be made to services mean that a cholera outbreak would be a grave threat to quake survivors.
DEC member agencies responding include the Red Cross.