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Aid Group Tracks Down Likely First Case In Haiti’s Cholera Outbreak

“A mentally ill man who bathed in and drank from a contaminated river most likely was the first person to be infected” with cholera in the outbreak that began in Haiti in October 2010, researchers from Partners in Health said in a study published Monday in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the Associated Press/Washington Post reports (1/9). “‘This patient’s case is the first in the community’s collective memory to have had symptoms that are recognizable, in retrospect, to be those of cholera,’ according to the study,” CNN’s “The Chart” notes, adding, “There is no lab method to confirm that this was the first patient to start the epidemic, wrote the authors” (Park, 1/9).

“The man developed severe diarrhea on Oct. 12, 2010, and died in less than 24 hours,” the New York Times writes, noting, “Two people who washed his body for a wake fell ill 48 hours later.” The newspaper adds, “Although his family had clean drinking water, the man often walked naked through town to bathe and drink from the Latem River just downstream from the Meye River, into which raw sewage drained from an encampment of United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal,” noting, “Haiti’s outbreak was of a Nepali strain, and that encampment is considered the source” (McNeil, 1/9).