Haiti cholera outbreak 'likely from UN'

Cholera is caused by bacteria spread in contaminated water or food, often through faeces.

Haiti cholera outbreak 'likely from UN'

A contingent of U.N. peacekeepers is the likely source of a cholera outbreak in Haiti that has killed at least 2,000 people, a French scientist said in a report.

Epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux concluded that the cholera originated in a tributary of Haiti's Artibonite river, next to a U.N. base outside the town of Mirebalais.

He was sent by the French government to assist Haitian health officials in determining the source of the outbreak, a French Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday.

"No other hypothesis could be found to explain the outbreak of a cholera epidemic in this village ... not affected by the earthquake earlier this year and located dozens of kilometers from the coast and (tent) camps," he wrote in a report that has not been publicly released.

The report also calls for a further investigation of the outbreak, improved medical surveillance and sanitation procedures for U.N. peacekeeping troops and better support for Haitian health authorities.

Cholera has added to the woes of the impoverished Caribbean nation, which was devastated by a massive earthquake in January that killed a quarter of a million people and left 1.3 million living in ramshackle refugee camps.

Haitian officials say the first cases of cholera, a waterborne illness, broke out on the banks of the Artibonite river, downstream of the UN base.

Cholera is caused by bacteria spread in contaminated water or food, often through faeces. If untreated, it can kill within a day through dehydration, with the old and the young the most vulnerable.


Agencies

Last Mod: 08 Aralık 2010, 15:31
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