Tuesday, November 02, 2010

CDC finds a match on Haitian cholera strain

The US Centers for Disease Control say the cholera strain in Haiti matches one that is usually found in South Asia. This puts more focus on the possible cause of the outbreak coming from a United Nations peacekeeping base that sits along the Artibonite River. An Al Jazeera video did show human waste from the base running into the river. The UN peacekeeping base houses soldiers from Nepal.

From the Associated Press article that we found at the New York Times, we read more about the mounting blame upon the UN base.

The finding does not identify the source, nor does it explain how cholera — a disease never confirmed to have existed in Haiti — suddenly erupted in the vulnerable country’s rural center. But it eliminates some possibilities, including any connection to a 1990s South American outbreak.

The finding also intensifies the scrutiny of a United Nations base built on a tributary to the Artibonite River. Cholera has been detected in the waterway, and most of the cases have been among people who live downriver and drank from the Artibonite.

Speculation among Haitians has increasingly focused on the base and troops there from Nepal, where cholera is endemic and which saw outbreaks this summer before the current contingent of troops arrived in Haiti. Most people infected by the microbe never develop symptoms but can still pass on the disease.

On Friday, hundreds of demonstrators waving tree branches and carrying anti-United Nations banners walked from the central plateau city of Mirebalais several miles to the gates of the base. “Like it or not, they must go,” they chanted.

The United Nations has defended its sanitation practices and denied that the base could be a source of the infection. A spokesman said the agency was looking into the matter on Monday following the C.D.C.’s announcement.

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