Tag Archives: cholera

In Haiti, a Building Fights Cholera

In Haiti, a Building Fights Cholera. New York Times, September 12, 2017.

Next month marks the seventh anniversary of the cholera outbreak that ravaged Haiti. The disease, which can cause death within hours if left untreated, came less than a year after Haiti was rocked by an enormous earthquake that left hundreds of thousands dead and millions injured, displaced and destitute.

Haiti is prone to earthquakes and tropical storms — the island was spared the worst of Hurricane Irma last week — but the cholera outbreak was an anomaly; the disease had never before struck Haiti. It was brought in, it is widely believed, by United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal.

A child with cholera symptoms being examined in the Cholera Treatment Center in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Credit Dieu Nalio Chery/Associated Press

A child with cholera symptoms being examined in the Cholera Treatment Center in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Credit Dieu Nalio Chery/Associated Press

One of the world’s most infectious waterborne diseases, cholera spreads quickly and has proved extremely difficult to contain in Haiti. Over 10,000 have died and nearly a million have been stricken to date.

But one organization has managed to nearly eradicate it in a large slum in Port-au-Prince that lacks clean water and sanitation.

One of the game changers that would surprise most people, including global health experts, was actually a building.

It wasn’t just any building, but a very intelligently and beautifully designed one: the Cholera Treatment Center, operated by Les Centres Gheskio, an acronym that stands for the Haitian Group for the Study of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections.

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‘It’s a Slow Death’: The World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis

‘It’s a Slow Death’: The World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis. New York Times, August 23, 2017.

SANA, Yemen – After two and a half years of war, little is functioning in Yemen.

Repeated bombings have crippled bridges, hospitals and factories. Many doctors and civil servants have gone unpaid for more than a year. map_cholera_top-1050

Malnutrition and poor sanitation have made the Middle Eastern country vulnerable to diseases that most of the world has confined to the history books.

In just three months, cholera has killed nearly 2,000 people and infected more than a half million, one of the world’s largest outbreaks in the past 50 years.

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The life and death struggle against cholera in Yemen – WHO

The life and death struggle against cholera in Yemen. WHO, July 2017.

Cholera continues to spread in Yemen, causing more than 390 000 suspected cases of the disease and more than 1800 deaths since 27 April.

WHO and its partners are responding to the cholera outbreak in Yemen, working closely with UNICEF, local health authorities and others to treat the sick and stop the spread of the disease. cholera

Each of these cholera cases is a person with a family, a story, hopes and dreams. In the centres, where patients are treated, local health workers work long hours, often without pay, to fight off death and help their patients make a full recovery.

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Cholera Hitches A Ride On The Backs Of Soft-Shell Turtles

Cholera Hitches A Ride On The Backs Of Soft-Shell Turtles. NPR, June 26, 2017.

You can catch cholera from drinking contaminated water.

You can catch it from raw or undercooked shellfish.

And you can catch it from soft-shell turtles.

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Cholera bacteria can colonize the outer surfaces of the Chinese soft-shell turtle, a species that’s found in parts of Asia. Frank Greenaway/Getty Images

That’s the finding of a study published this month by scientists at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. And it’s a particular concern in China and many other countries in East Asia, where turtle meat is often used in stews and soups.

The researchers found that the bacterium that causes cholera, Vibrio cholerae, can colonize many of the outer surfaces of a soft-shell turtle, including its shell, legs, neck and calipash — a gelatinous material just underneath the shell and highly prized as a delicacy. The bacteria can also live in turtles’ intestines. The study was published in the scientific journal, Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Although China has relatively few cholera cases compared to other countries, several small outbreaks of cholera are linked to soft-shell turtles every year, often at rural banquets — a troubling sign, considering that turtle consumption in the country has grown to somewhere between 220 million and 330 million pounds per year.

“We found that soft-shell turtles really can carry Vibrio cholerae and cause cholera outbreaks,” said Meiying Yan, one of the study’s authors. “The surface of the turtle was the most important source of Vibrio cholerae O139.” O139 is a strain of cholera circulating in Asia that was discovered in 1992.

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How El Niño forecasts can help prevent cholera deaths in Africa

How El Niño forecasts can help prevent cholera deaths in Africa. The Conversation, May 14, 2017.

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Pit latrine in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Access to clean water and sanitation are key to preventing cholera epidemics. D. Schafer, SuSanA/Flickr, CC

Since it first emerged from the Ganges River delta 200 years ago, cholera has killed tens of millions of people around the world. It causes acute diarrhea that can kill quickly without proper treatment. Before the 1970s it was not unusual for healthy adults to die of dehydration within days of infection, despite drinking large amounts of water.

By some estimates, over a billion people worldwide live in areas where there is risk of cholera, and hundreds of thousands die every year. But when people have access to clean water, appropriate treatment or vaccine, the risk of cholera is greatly reduced. With well-trained medical staff and supplies, appropriate and timely treatment of cholera patients can ensure that almost no one dies.

In a recent study, our group sought to understand how weather changes caused by El Niño impact cholera risk in Africa, where most cholera deaths occur. El Niño events can now be forecast as much as a year in advance, so knowing this relationship may help forecast where cholera outbreaks are most likely to occur.

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Recent news on cholera outbreaks

May 9 – Yemen war: Surge in cholera outbreak kills 34 – WHO – The World Health Organisation says 2,022 suspected cases of cholera and acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) were reported between 27 April and 7 May.

May 9 – IOM Responds as Cholera Outbreak Spreads in South Sudan – Relief agencies are responding to cholera outbreaks across the country, with nine counties currently reporting active transmission, including three in Jonglei alone.

May 9 – Haiti sees decrease in suspected cholera cases – (PAHO) says the number of suspected cholera cases reported in this French-speaking Caribbean country, up to April 8, 2017, has decreased when compared to the same periods in 2015 and 2016.In its latest report, PAHO says to date 4,871 suspected cholera cases have been reported in Haiti, including 69 deaths. This represents a 60 and 61 per cent decrease compared to the 12,373 and 12,226 suspected cholera cases reported during the same period in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

May 5 – As rainy season starts, UN health agency warns of cholera outbreak in drought-hit Somalia – Somalia is suffering from the largest cholera outbreak in the past five years and the number of people killed is expected to double by the end of June, the United Nations health agency. The UN World Health Organization (WHO) reported close to 32,000 cases of cholera, including 618 deaths, since the beginning of the year.

May 6 – Nagpur – After 4 years, cholera makes a comeback –  After a lull of four years, cholera, the deadliest of all water borne diseases has raised its ugly head again. About 31 positive cases of cholera have been recorded between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017.

May 1 – Ghana – Health Service reminds regional directors to be alert for cholera outbreak –  The Ghana Health Service has reminded of its cholera alert to all regional health directors and warned of the risk of an outbreak in 2017, has increased by the onset of the rains and potential flooding in some communities.

 

A Photographer’s Journey Into Haiti’s Cholera Crisis – National Geographic

A Photographer’s Journey Into Haiti’s Cholera Crisis. National Geographic, December 13, 2016.

After Hurricane Matthew hit, a silent killer struck the fragile country—again

The same rains that were spreading cholera across southern Haiti were blocking Andrea Bruce from getting to the story.

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The Elise Adventure Morija Church was completely swept away during Hurricane Matthew. Residents still hold services under a tent on the church’s foundation.

The National Geographic photographer had arrived a few weeks after Hurricane Matthew struck the island in October to document a new surge of cholera cases spreading across some of the country’s most remote areas.

When Bruce reached the mountainous epicenter of the cholera crisis, a town called Rendel, she found crumbled homes, some with just a door frame or a single piece of furniture left standing. Residents were scrapping together small shacks from the rubble.

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