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samedi 23 octobre 2010

Haïti: l'épidémie de choléra a fait plus de 200 morts

Haïti: Le choléra a déjà fait plus de 200 morts en Haïti, où les autorités tentaient samedi d'empêcher l'extension d'une épidémie survenant 10 mois après le séisme qui avait dévasté le pays le plus pauvre du continent américain.

Quelques jours après son apparition, la catastrophe sanitaire née dans plusieurs régions du nord de l'île semblait s'approcher de la capitale Port-au-Prince, où survivent dans des villages de tentes des centaines de milliers de sinistrés du tremblement de terre.
Le directeur général du ministère de la Santé publique, Gabriel Thimoté, a mentionné samedi 208 décès, dont 194 ont été enregistrés dans le département de l'Artibonite (nord) et 14 dans le centre du pays.
Près de 3.000 personnes sont hospitalisées dans des hôpitaux et des centres de santé qui sont souvent dépassés par la situation faute de moyens suffisants, selon les mêmes chiffres.
"La situation est sous contrôle, la population ne doit pas céder à la panique", a recommandé le docteur Jocelyne Pierre-Louis, fonctionnaire du ministère de la santé, en appelant à plus que jamais "respecter les mesures d'hygiène".
Le président haïtien, René Préval, accompagné du ministre de la Santé Alex Larsen, a entrepris samedi matin une tournée d'inspection dans les régions affectées par l'épidémie, a annoncé le directeur du ministère de la santé.
Il a assuré que les autorités étaient en train de prendre des mesures pour distribuer de l'eau traitée à la population.
Vendredi, le ministère avait lancé un appel demandant à la mission de stabilisation de l'ONU déployée en Haïti de prendre en charge la distribution des médicaments qui sont fournis par des instances internationales.
Le gouvernement canadien a offert un hôpital militaire à Haïti, tandis que les Etats-Unis ont proposé de grandes tentes pour monter des hôpitaux de campagne.
Le Canada, où vit une très importante communauté haïtienne, a également annoncé samedi qu'il verserait jusqu'à un million de dollars canadiens en réponse à l'épidémie.
La Croix rouge américaine a enfin annoncé l'arrivée samedi de trois cargaisons de médicaments en Haïti.
Selon des stations de radios de Port-au-Prince, des personnes victimes de diarrhée et de vomissements ont été hospitalisés dans des centres de santé situé à quelques kilomètres de la capitale, où des cas de décès sont aussi signalés.
"Ces rumeurs nous ont conduit à faire des investigations, dans certains quartiers de la capitale, mais il n'y a pas de malade dans la ville", a tenté de rassurer Gabriel Thimoté.
Le choléra, une maladie hautement contagieuse causé par une bactérie, provoque de très violentes diarrhées. En l'absence de soins immédiats basés d'abord sur une réhydratation, cette déperdition gravissime de liquides (un malade peut perdre 10% de son poids en quatre heures) est souvent mortelle.
Le gouvernement a appelé les Haïtiens à limiter leurs déplacements, à éviter de se rendre dans les zones de concentration de la maladie et de suivre les consignes sanitaires.
M. Thimoté a appelé le secteur privé haïtien à aider le gouvernement à trouver des matelas en plastique pour les malades, qui affluent par centaines dans les hôpitaux, et à améliorer la capacité en eau potable et en moyens de désinfection.
Dans les camps d'hébergement disséminés à travers la capitale, des membres d'organisations non gouvernementales s'activaient samedi à distribuer de l'eau aux nombreux sinistrés.
http://www.lenouvelliste.com/article.php?PubID=1&ArticleID=84976&PubDate=2010-10-23

Jude Célestin dans le collimateur du fisc

Le Miami Herald a publié ce mercredi 20 octobre un article sur le candidat de INITE, Jude Célestin, avec la collaboration des journalistes Trenton Daniel et Jacqueline Charles, la correspondante du journal dans la Caraïbe. Le texte ci-dessous est traduit de l'anglais. Haïti: Selon des informations dignes de foi, M. Jude Célestin, le candidat désigné du président René Préval à la présidentielle du 28 novembre 2010, fait face à une vague de tracasseries liées à la saisie de ses propriétés du sud de la Floride.
En effet, une vieille connaissance de M. Célestin, Tania Chihimie, a acheté une maison au prix de 1,1 million de dollars à Weston en 2006, au plus fort de la période du boom immobilier, selon les dossiers. Au début de cette année, des scellés ont été apposés sur la maison faute de versement au propriétaire de la somme de $ 1,06 million. La propriété de 5 117 mètres carrés, qui fait face à un canal, a des arriérés de taxes de $13 961, selon des chiffres fournis par le comté de Broward. Cette propriété fait partie des trois maisons achetées par M. Célestin en 2002, dans la partie sud de l'État de Floride. Elle est la seconde à être saisie, ou sur le point de l'être.
Contactée à ce sujet, une source proche de l'équipe de campagne de M. Célestin a indiqué que le candidat était indisponible pour se pencher sur ses démêlés avec le fisc de la Floride du Sud, et a proposé que cette question soit abordée avec Tania Chihimie.
« M. Célestin n'a rien à voir avec la propriété en question », pouvait-on lire dans un courriel parvenu au Miami Herald mercredi. « Il n'habite pas Weston, mais Haïti dont il est un citoyen. »
Dans un courriel au Miami Herald, Chihimie a dit « endosser la responsabilité entière » pour la maison de Weston et les taxes immobilières y relatives. Elle a ajouté avoir obtenu un prêt de son employeur, une banque située à Antigua, sans préciser qui - la banque ou elle - devrait payer les taxes et l'assurance de ladite propriété. Des frais de créance mensuels devaient être déduits de ses dépenses, pouvait-on lire.

Gérer des milliards
La divulgation d'informations sur les finances personnelles de M. Célestin survient au moment où les électeurs doivent prendre une décision sur qui des 19 candidats à la présidence ils vont voter. Quel candidat sera plus apte à gérer les milliards de dollars en provenance de la communauté internationale pour la reconstruction post-séisme, thème déjà très présent à la campagne présidentielle ? Le tremblement de terre du 12 janvier a fait près de 300 000 morts et 1 500 000 sans-abri.
Célestin, un célibataire de 48 ans, est considéré comme le protégé de Préval. Mais l'ingénieur en mécanique est perçu dans son pays comme un novice en politique. Malgré ses propriétés immobilières dans le sud de la Floride, M. Célestin est l'un des rares candidats aux élections de novembre à n'avoir pas mis les pieds en Floride et au-delà - alors que cela semble une aubaine pour se faire connaître à l'étranger et collecter des fonds pour la campagne. Les analystes politiques ont prédit que les candidats devraient dépenser beaucoup d'argent pour gagner la présidentielle.
Les portraits géants et les banderoles à l'effigie de Célestin, sur fond jaune et vert, dominent les tentes des campements et ce qui reste d'immeubles dans la capitale. Certains portent le slogan « 100 pour 100 pour Haïti ». Mercredi, des milliers de personnes se sont rassemblées sur une place de la commune de la Croix-des-Bouquets, dans la banlieue nord de Port-au-Prince, pour écouter Célestin, qui a tenu son premier meeting électoral.
« Ils croient en une nouvelle génération à laquelle nous appartenons aussi », a-t-il dit à une foule majoritairement composée de jeunes supporters. « Aujourd'hui, je représente Haïti... C'est une preuve de la réconciliation que nous appelons de tous nos voeux. La preuve de l'unité que nous réclamons. »
Ingénieur formé en Suisse, Célestin a eu à gérer les fonds gouvernementaux destinés au Centre national des équipements (CNE) pour la construction des routes, avant de s'engager dans la course à la présidence. Fondé en 1997, la CNE a contribué au ramassage des moellons et le placement de milliers de corps dans des fosses communes hors de Port-au-Prince après le séisme de magnitude 7.3.

Marché local
Après cinq ans à la tête du CNE, Célestin devint très actif dans l'immobilier au sud de la Floride. Des documents du comté de Broward montrent qu'il acheté, le 20 novembre 2002, une maison de 1 879 mètres carrés au 1125 Bluewood Terrace, à Weston, qui coûte $233 000. Moins d'une semaine après, soit le 26 novembre, Célestin acheta une autre maison de 1 877 mètres carrés à Weston, au 616 Stanton Drive d'un montant de $215 000.
Jude Célestin a payé les maisons grâce à deux prêts hypothécaires de la World Savings Bank à San Antonio -$163 100 pour la propriété de Bluewood Terrace et $139 750 pour celle de Stanton Drive qui devait par la suite être menacée de saisie.
Une source proche du candidat a affirmé que M. Célestin a « essayé d'étendre ses investissements. L'immobilier n'en était qu'une composante, et certains investissements étaient plus porteurs que d'autres.
La compagnie des câbles de la ville a adressé une seconde mise en demeure à Célestin pour des arriérés s'élevant à $402 68 pour la propriété de Stanton Drive. Cette démarche fut abandonnée par la suite. Les documents révèlent que le 6 avril 2004, Célestin vendit la maison de Bluewood Terrace à $272 000. En 2008, il céda la propriété de Stanton Drive pour $340 000 à sa soeur Rita Célestin Rancy, ex-conseillère spéciale au ministère du plan en Haïti. Car le propriétaire avait initié la procédure de saisie.
En 2006, Jude Célestin et Tania Chihimie ont acheté une propriété à $1,1 million actuellement sous scellé. Chihimie a refusé de dire pourquoi ils ont acheté ensemble la maison à 16340 Padock Ln. Chihimie a déclaré avoir reçu un prêt grâce à son travail de consultante à la ABI Financial Group, propriétaire de la Antigua Overseas Bank - le prêt a été accordé par la banque. Elle a signifié au Miami Herald, par courriel, que les versements mensuels étaient déduits de son salaire.
De tels prêts n'étaient pas inhabituels en 2006 au summum du boom immobilier, mais ce serait vraiment plus difficile de nos jours. [...] La Saddle Club Estates Homeowners Association" a sommé Célestin et Chihimie de verser des arriérés impayés de l'ordre de $2 236,90.

Tentative de vente
Après le crash immobilier de 2008, Chihimie a tenté de vendre la maison.
« Suite à nos récentes conversations téléphoniques et échanges de courriels, nous avons cru comprendre que vous cherchez à vendre la maison », a écrit Carole Schlott Donelan, manager adjoint de « Offshore Operations » à « Antigua Overseas Bank à Chihimie le 31 janvier 2009. Cette lettre a été incluse dans un dossier du tribunal de Broward.
La banque a accepté de prolonger l'accord de dette sur la maison - à hauteur de $612 820 - jusqu'à mars 2009.
Mais vers la fin de l'été tous les espoirs de clémence restèrent vains.
« Suite à votre courriel du 3 septembre 2009, nous regrettons les difficultés et défis auxquels vous faites face », a écrit Donelan à Chihimie le 15 octobre. « Le business de la banque doit se poursuivre et par conséquent le prêt de USD 1 000 000 - après plusieurs rappels et reports a trop duré - doit être honoré.
Célestin et Chihimie n'ont pas non plus payé les taxes immobilières sur cette propriété de 2006 à 2008, selon les documents.
Le 28 janvier 2010, les dossiers montrent que la banque a payé $60 052,17 de taxes sur la propriété pour éviter des représailles pour retard de paiement.
La somme totale que la banque réclame actuellement à Jude Célestin et Tania Chihimie s'élève à $ 1 062 143,83. L'avocat de Broward Antigua Overseas Bank, John Primeau, s'est gardé de tout commentaire.
Chihimie a dit qu'elle « endossait toute la responsabilité pour la maison ».
« Je prendrai la responsabilité pour les taxes de cette année », a-t-elle écrit. « Une certaine confusion régnait autour de celui qui devrait payer les taxes et l'assurance sur la propriété, la banque ou moi. »http://www.lenouvelliste.com/article.php?PubID=1&ArticleID=84898&PubDate=2010-10-23

University has a field hospital in Haiti

UM Med School responds to Haiti cholera outbreak

EBY FRED TASKER

FTASKER@MIAMIHERALD.COM
Doctors at the University of Miami School of Medicine have been huddling to plan their response to the cholera outbreak in Haiti.
UM is doing an inventory of supplies at its Port-au-Prince field hospital and another medical facility in the Central Highlands to see what it can supply to the Haitian government.
By early Saturday, nearly 200 dead were confirmed dead in Haiti's worst health crisis since the Jan. 12 quake. Authorities said more than 2,000 people are sick.
Most critical, said Dr. Arthur Fournier, associate dean for community health at the medical school, is simple ``oral rehydration therapy'' -- little packets of sugar and salt that, when mixed with clean water, can rehydrate a cholera victim without the need for an IV.
``We're getting these to them,'' said Fournier, who was in Haiti Thursday. ``We probably need more.''
From its facilities in Haiti, UM also is sending cots for patients and bleach for the hands of caregivers and to disinfect human waste.
``We probably need more of that too.''
After the Jan. 12 quake, the UM med school and Project Medishare quickly erected a 240-bed emergency tent hospital at the Port-au-Prince airport, treating hundreds ofpatients, often under horrific conditions.
The hospital is still running, with about 200 patients, Fournier said.
How to contain Haiti's new cholera outbreak is ``a $64 question,'' Fournier said. ``These are very smart germs, and Haiti is a resource-poor country.''
He said two national roads that run through the disease zone might help spread the disease. ``Haiti's squalid public sanitation is going to be a big problem.''
He added: ``This brings Haiti back on the radar. Hopefully it will refortify efforts to rebuild the infrastructure so we don't face these crises every several months.''
Throughout the world, about 3-5 million cholera cases and more than 100,000 deaths occur every year, mostly in poor countries, the World Health Organization says.
Major epidemics took place in the 1800s, when it spread from an original reservoir in the Ganges delta in India. Millions died.
Today it is endemic, and a substantial health burden, in many countries in Africa, Asia and South and Central America.
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/10/23/1887814/um-med-school-responds-to-haiti.html#ixzz13D4VwPBF

More Haitians sickened by deadly cholera

President Preval wonders about the epidemic's impact on upcoming elections
BY JACQUELINE CHARLES AND TRENTON DANIEL CRLINE TDANIEL@MIAMIHERALD.COM
PORT-AU-PRINCE -- The number of Haitians infected with cholera and cholera-like symptons continued to mount Saturday as panic spread that the deadly disease could reach the quake-battered capital where thousands of people are living in unsanitary camps.
Meanwhile, government officials and international aid workers asked people to remain calm but stay vigilant and be sure to wash their hands with soap and stay out of rivers.
As of Friday evening, the Haitian government reported that 2,364 Haitians have been hospitalized for cholera throughout the affected Artibonite region in central Haiti, and 194 have died.The death toll was expected to rise. Partners in Health, or PIH, reported Saturday that the number of new cases at the hospital in St. Marc -- where the ill have gone to seek treatment -- on Friday was lower than new cases on Thursday. But with only three days of data, it isn't possible to say that this represents a positive trend, PIH said.
PIH also reported that at least 10 cases have been found in Gonaives, a port city in the Artibonite that's located 34 miles north of St. Marc.
The outbreak has raised questions about the presidential election scheduled Nov. 28. Haitian President René Préval says he wonders if the election, which would bring thousands of people closer together, might exacerbate the epidemic. He also raised the question of continuing a public election campaign that began eight days ago.
The country's worst fear is that the disease could reach the 1.5 million people living in about 1,000 unsanitary camps in Port-au-Prince and other cities ravaged by the Jan. 12 earthquake.
``We are very, very worried,'' said Claude Surena, a physician with Haiti's health ministry.
Health officials still are trying to figure out the cause of the outbreak. Workers say cases began showing up Tuesday, and many just assumed it was another bout of diarrhea in a country where that's common.
But they quickly realized it was something much worse because the death rate quickly climbed to 10 percent of the cases. On Friday, government health experts officially confirmed what they were seeing was the contagious and deadly disease.
The last known case of cholera in Haiti was in 1960, authorities said.
The outbreak is the worst medical crisis in Haiti since the Jan. 12 earthquake claimed up to 300,000 lives.
However, the disease didn't start in the tent cities, as many had feared. It happened along the central corridor, which was spared from the devastating quake.
The Ministry of Health declared the worst-affected areas were the towns of Drouin, Marchand Dessalines and areas around St. Marc, a port city 55 miles north of the capital.
In a matter of hours, mothers had lost children, husbands had lost wives and entire communities were grieving.
Meanwhile, the government and the international community have stepped up public awareness campaigns on best sanitation practices and started to deliver bottled water and bars of soap.
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/10/23/1887953/more-haitians-sickened-by-cholera.html#ixzz13D2mwsoN

Cholera outbreak spreads toward Haiti's capital

By JACOB KUSHNER, The Associated Press
Saturday, October 23, 2010; 7:28 AM
ST. MARC, Haiti -- An outbreak of cholera has spread outside a rural valley in central Haiti, intensifying worries the disease could reach squalid tarp camps that house hundreds of thousands of earthquake survivors in the capital.
By early Saturday, nearly 200 dead were confirmed dead in the poor Caribbean nation's worst health crisis since the Jan. 12 quake, and authorities said more than 2,000 people were sick.
The first two cholera cases outside the central Artibonite region were confirmed Friday in Arcahaie, a town closer to the quake-devastated capital, Port-au-Prince. Experts also were investigating possible cases in Croix-des-Bouquet, a suburb of the capital, and radio reports said there were two dozen cases of diarrhea on Gonave island.
Health officials are fearful about the outbreak spreading into the capital, where thousands and thousands of people are living in unsanitary conditions in refugee camps.
"It will be very, very dangerous," said Claude Surena, president of the Haitian Medical Association. "Port-au-Prince already has more than 2.4 million people, and the way they are living is dangerous enough already." clearly a lot more needs to be done."
Aid groups and the government were rushing in medical and relief supplies, including 10,000 boxes of water purification, according to the World Health Organization.
The Ministry of Health has confirmed 194 deaths and a total of 2,364 cases of cholera, said Imogen Wall, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
"It's concentrated in Artibonite right now and we're doing our best to keep it that way," Wall said.
Dozens of patients lay on the floor awaiting treatment at the St. Nicholas hospital in the seaside city of St. Marc on Friday, some of them brushing away flies on mattresses stained with human feces.
One, 55-year-old Jille Sanatus, was brought in by his son Jordany the night before. A doctor was struggling to stick a needle into his arm.
"He's completely dehydrated, so it's difficult. It's hard to find the vein," said Dr. Roasana Casimir, who had been working nearly without rest since the outbreak became apparent Wednesday.
Casimir finally penetrated the vein and fluid from an IV bag began to trickle in, but half an hour later the father of 10 was dead. Two hospital employees carried the body to the morgue behind the hospital and placed it on the ground for the family to reclaim for a funeral.
Sanatus' son said the family had been drinking water from a river running down from the central plateau region. Health Minister Alex Larsen said Friday that the river tested positive for cholera.
Wall said the sick patients and the contagious remains of the dead were insufficiently quarantined.
"Part of the problem has been people are moving around a lot, and there hasn't been proper isolation in place at the clinics," she said.
The sick come from across the desolate Artibonite Valley, a region that received thousands of refugees following the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed as many as 300,000 people and destroyed the capital 45 miles (70 kilometers) south of St. Marc. Most of the new arrivals have been taken in by host families.
Cholera was not present in Haiti before the earthquake, but experts had warned that conditions were ripe for disease to strike in areas with limited access to clean water.
"You cannot say it is because of the earthquake, but because of the earthquake the situation here requires a high level of attention in case the epidemic extends," said Michel Thieren, a program officer for the Pan-American Health Organization.
Cholera is a bacterial infection spread through contaminated water. It causes severe diarrhea and vomiting that can lead to dehydration and death within hours.
Larsen, the health minister, urged anyone suffering diarrhea to make their own rehydration serum out of salt, sugar and water to drink on the way to a hospital.
The number of cases will continue to grow because Haitians do not have any built-up immunity to cholera, said Jon Andrus, deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization's Regional Office for the Americas, which is sending medical teams to the neighboring Dominican Republic as a preventive measure.
"We have all the things in place for something we know will get bigger," Andrus said.
Associated Press writers Mike Melia and Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed to this report.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/23/AR2010102300855.html

Cholera epidemic spreads in Haiti; Nearly 200 dead

By JACOB KUSHNER


The Associated Press
Saturday, October 23, 2010; 1:45 AM
ST. MARC, Haiti -- A cholera epidemic spread in central Haiti on Friday as aid groups rushed doctors and supplies to fight the country's worst health crisis since January's earthquake. Nearly 200 deaths had been confirmed and more than 2,000 people were ill.
The first two cases of the disease outside the rural Artibonite region were confirmed in Arcahaie, a town that is closer to the quake-devastated capital, Port-au-Prince.
Officials are concerned the outbreak could reach the squalid tarp camps where hundreds of thousands of quake survivors live in the capital.
"It will be very, very dangerous," said Claude Surena, president of the Haitian Medical Association. "Port-au-Prince already has more than 2.4 million people, and the way they are living is dangerous enough already."
The Ministry of Health confirmed 194 deaths and 2,364 cases of cholera, said Imogen Wall, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
"It's concentrated in Artibonite right now and we're doing our best to keep it that way," Wall said.
Dozens of patients lay on the floor awaiting treatment at the St. Nicholas hospital in the seaside city of St. Marc, some of them brushing away flies on mattresses stained with human feces.
One of them, 55-year-old Jille Sanatus, had been there since his son Jordany brought him Thursday night. A doctor was struggling to stick a needle into his arm.
"He's completely dehydrated, so it's difficult. It's hard to find the vein," said Dr. Roasana Casimir, who had been working nearly without rest since the outbreak began two days earlier.
Casimir finally penetrated the vein and fluid from an IV bag began to trickle in, but half an hour later the father of 10 was dead. Two hospital employees carried the body to the morgue behind the hospital and placed it on the ground for the family to reclaim for a funeral.
Sanatus' son said the family had been drinking water from a river running down from the central plateau region. Health Minister Alex Larsen said Friday that the river tested positive for cholera.
Wall said the sick patients and the contagious remains of the dead were insufficiently quarantined.
"Part of the problem has been people are moving around a lot, and there hasn't been proper isolation in place at the clinics," she said.
The sick come from across the desolate Artibonite Valley, a region that received thousands of refugees following the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed as many as 300,000 people and destroyed the capital 45 miles (70 kilometers) south of St. Marc. Most of the new arrivals have been taken in by host families.
In addition to the two cholera cases confirmed by the health ministry in Arcahaie, the International Medical Corps said it was investigating other possible cases in Croix-des-Bouquet, a suburb of the capital. Radio reports also said there were two dozen cases of diarrhea on Gonave island.
Cholera was not present in Haiti before the earthquake, but experts had warned that conditions were ripe for disease to strike in areas with limited access to clean water.
"You cannot say it is because of the earthquake, but because of the earthquake the situation here requires a high level of attention in case the epidemic extends," said Michel Thieren, a program officer for the Pan-American Health Organization.
Cholera is a bacterial infection spread through contaminated water. It causes severe diarrhea and vomiting that can lead to dehydration and death within hours.
Larsen, the health minister, urged anyone suffering diarrhea to make their own rehydration serum out of salt, sugar and water to drink on the way to a hospital.
Catherine Bragg, the U.N.'s No. 2 humanitarian official, said officials could not yet explain exactly how the outbreak occurred, or when it might end.
"I cannot say that it is under control," Bragg, the U.N.'s assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York. "Cholera deaths are preventable, and we're doing everything we can. However, clearly a lot more needs to be done."
The number of cases will continue to grow because Haitians do not have any built-up immunity to cholera, said Jon Andrus, deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization's Regional Office for the Americas, which is sending medical teams to the neighboring Dominican Republic as a preventive measure.
"We have all the things in place for something we know will get bigger," Andrus said.
Aid groups and the government were rushing in medical and relief supplies including 10,000 boxes of water purification tablets and 2,500 jerrycans, according to the World Health Organization.
Wall said some 300,000 courses of antibiotics were available in Haiti and were being prepared for use in the Artibonite.
Outside the hospital in St. Marc, 28-year-old Ismode Mesinord was among dozens of relatives clamoring to get in to see their relatives. She complained security guards would not her in to visit her 1-year-old son.
"I'm worried because he's vomiting and has diarrhea and there's no one to take care of him," she said.
Associated Press writers Mike Melia and Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed to this report.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/22/AR2010102205698_2.html?hpid=moreheadlines


Officials: Toll in Haiti's cholera outbreak now above 150

By Greg Botelho, CNN October 22, 2010 -- Updated 2156 GMT (0556 HKT)
(CNN) -- The death toll from a cholera outbreak in Haiti has risen to more than 150 confirmed deaths, according to health officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

At a joint news conference held Friday, Dr. Rob Quick and Dr. Carleene Dei discussed the outbreak and efforts to work out a containment strategy.
The CDC will send an 11-member team to Haiti over the next few days to find out which antibiotics will be most effective in treating the cholera outbreak.
US AID will provide supplies needed to set up treatment centers. The group has already prepositioned 300,000 oral re-hydration kits and are distributing water purification kits in affected areas.
Officials also confirmed that all the reported cases are in the Artibonite and Central Plateau regions, north of Port-au-Prince. They said they're working to contain the outbreak there and prevent its spread to the densely populated capital.
Chaos reigned acrooss the Artibonite and Central Plateau regions Friday, as hospitals overflowed with people rushing to get help from the fast-moving cholera outbreak.
Eric Lotz, Haiti's national director for the nonprofit Operation Blessing, described a "horrific" scene outside St. Nicolas hospital, the main medical facility in the city of St. Marc, as patients and their family members fought to get care.
"There was bedlam outside the gate," said Lotz. "Inside (the hospital), every square inch is covered with people."
Some people waited 24 hours or more to get help outside the hospital, many of them on stretchers, said Terry Snow, Haiti director for the nonprofit Youth With a Mission.
Snow said he tried to take one man with cholera to various clinics, only to end up at St. Nicolas hospital and be told that it was full. The man died soon thereafter in the back of his truck, he said.
"It's very chaotic," Snow said of the scene in St. Marc and more rural agricultural areas nearby. "People are trying to figure out what to do. People are lost."
Sandrellie Seraphin, who works for Partners in Health and the Clinton Foundation, visited the hospital Wednesday.
"It's terrible," she told CNN by phone, describing the crowds of people trying to get help. "There's a great fear among the people" about the disease.
1,526 people have been sickened in the outbreak, said Imogen Wall, the U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman in Haiti.
This comes after recent heavy rains caused the banks of the Artibonite River to overflow and flood the area. Dammed in 1956 to create Lac de Peligre, the Artibonite River is Haiti's dominant drainage system, according to the U.S. Library of Congress.
Snow said that "constant miscommunication and confusion" have hindered aid efforts, though he expressed hope things may improve Friday as more help comes in.
On Friday, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive called the cholera outbreak "unprecedented" and said authorities were working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to understand what happened.
"We have to determine ... where (the cholera) came from," he said.
Cholera is caused by a bacterial infection of the intestine and, in severe cases, is characterized by diarrhea, vomiting and leg cramps, according to the U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In such cases, rapid loss of body fluids can lead to dehydration and shock. "Without treatment, death can occur within hours," the agency says.
A person can get cholera by drinking water or eating food contaminated with the bacteria. During epidemics, the source of the contamination is often the feces of an infected person, and infections can spread rapidly in areas where there is poor sewage treatment and a lack of clean drinking water, according to the CDC.
"If the environmental conditions are not right, anybody who ingests that food or water can get ill," said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. "This is the disease that can cause more severe dehydration than any other."
All the reported cases in the Lower Artibonite involve severe diarrhea and vomiting, Wall said.
Ian Rawson, director of Hopital Albert Schweitzer Haiti near Verrettes, said patients began showing cholera-like symptoms Saturday. The pace picked up significantly Tuesday and beyond, though he said the situation was under control Friday at his 80-bed facility about 16 miles east of Saint Marc.
"So far, we've been able to manage it," Rawson said, noting that new patients were now coming in via pick-up trucks about every 10 minutes.
Temperatures in the mid-90s exacerbated the dual concerns about dehydration and people contracting cholera by drinking tainted water. People lined roadsides in and around villages with buckets, according to Lotz, hoping that passerby might have clean water.
He said that his organization on Thursday helped install one water filtration unit, capable of providing 10,000 gallons of clean drinking water, and planned to install another two Friday. But some parts of the impoverished nation remained out of reach, he said. One village had been totally cut off by floodwater.
Operation Blessing was among many nonprofit organizations, nations and international bodies in the region offering help. In a State Department briefing Friday, spokesman P.J. Crowley said members of several U.S. agencies were "on the ground" to facilitate and provide clean water and ensure sound sanitization. U.N. staff, too, have sent tents and rehydration supplies to the region, Wall said.
Haiti is still trying to bounce back from a catastrophic 7.0-magnitude earthquake on January 12 that destroyed much of the capital city. The U.N. mission in Haiti credited access to clean water and free medical facilities for preventing feared outbreaks of cholera and tuberculosis.
But Snow said he has noticed a rise in new illnesses -- from skin infections to flu-like viruses -- in the region since tens of thousands of people moved to the area after the earthquake and the opening of a new canal off the Artibonite River.
Whatever the cause, Lotz said the scene this week at hospitals in and around St. Marc eerily resembled what happened in Port-au-Prince after the colossal quake.
"It's the same scene, without the wounds, just the same numbers of people inundating the hospital," said Lotz, who was in the Haitian capital last January.
CNN's Azadeh Ansari and Alanne Orjoux contributed to this report.
http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/10/21/haiti.cholera/index.html?hpt=T2