WHO predicts more cases of cholera in Haiti

26th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

The World Health Organisation said on Tuesday that more cases of cholera would be found linked to the sudden epidemic in Haiti but ruled out the need for travel restrictions.

"At the WHO we think more cases will be found. The most important thing is prevention," said WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib.

The disease that emerged last week in the country with the first reported cases for a century has killed 259 people, although Haitian officials expressed confidence that the outbreak was contained.

Haiti's health ministry has confirmed 3,342 cases.

The UN Organisation for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the neighbouring Dominican Republic had mobilised a contingency plan in the border area, "partly closing" four crossing points to those without passports.

"There is no need to close the borders or restrict travel or trade because a neighbouring country has cholera. This is what we say for all cholera outbreaks worldwide," said Chaib.

She said the Dominican Republic had mobilised a contingency plan in border area.

"That is fine with us. It is important that neighbouring countries take measures to be prepared in case of cholera emerging across borders."

Chaib said Trinidad was helping other Caribbean islands mobilise to deal with any infected travellers that might reach them.

"Cholera is condition that's quite easy to treat," underlined WHO disasters spokesman Paul Garwood.

Health officials said the source of the outbreak was not clear although contamination of the Artibonite River, an artery crossing Haiti's rural center, is believed to be the source of the epidemic.

"Evaluations show that most of the cases of cholera come from people in rural areas who worked in rice fields... especially Artibonite where the cases affect lots of seasonal workers," OCHA spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs explained.

Apart from public health campaigns through the country's most popular medium, local radio stations, aid agencies are also resorting to a "digital outreach" campaign with text messaging about hygiene precautions on mobile phones, the International Organisation for Migration said.

© 2010 AFP

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