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Cholera Epidemic In Haiti Persists Despite Slowdown In Fatalities

“A multinational medical response has slowed deaths in a Haitian cholera epidemic that has killed more than 250 people so far, but the outbreak is likely to widen, a senior U.N. official said on Sunday,” Reuters reports. The U.N., Haitian government and aid partners “have launched a major effort to try to contain the epidemic” of more than 3,000 cases in the country so far (Delva, 10/25). The New York Times reports that the death rate, according to the Haitian government, has “declined – from 10.6 percent of known cases three days earlier to 8.2 percent now.”

“[A]nxiety has been growing fiercely that the cholera epidemic, which began last week in the northwest of Haiti, will soon strike the earthquake-ravaged Port-au-Prince metropolitan area,” the newspaper adds. Michel Thieren of PAHO said, “We cannot read too much into the slight improvement in the fatality rate … The epidemic has not spread yet, but it is still increasing roughly at the same rate in the [rural] Artibonite area,” where the outbreak is centered (Sontag, 10/24).

“Five cases of cholera have been confirmed in the capital, but all five had travelled from the Artibonite Valley,” CBC News reports. “Our main concern now is to be prepared if the cholera spreads down south, that we’re ready to respond very quickly and effectively,” said Chris Brewer, a Red Cross sanitation team leader.

Julie Schindall, an Oxfam spokeswoman, “said what matters most right now is getting information about preventing and treating cholera out to the public.” CBC adds that aid organizations and the Haitian government are sending “clean water supplies, hygiene products and increased food supplies” to the affected areas (10/25). Inter Press Service reports on efforts by aid groups, such as Doctors Without Borders and Partners In Health, to treat patients with cholera and control the epidemic (Herz, 10/22).

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