Friday, December 03, 2010

Rural Haiti is seeing the worst of the cholera spread

The cholera outbreak in Haiti seems to be hitting the rural areas the hardest. It is because those in the country are further away from medical clinics from clean water. Cholera is a bacteria spread along contaminated water, so the open defecation prevalent in Haiti's rural areas has helped the outbreak along.

From this Associated Press article that we found at Google News, we recieve this latest update on the epidemic.

Many feared Haiti's growing epidemic would overwhelm a capital teeming with more than 1 million people left homeless by January's earthquake. But, so far, it is the countryside seeing the worst of an epidemic that has killed nearly 1,900 people since erupting less than two months ago.

Rural clinics are overrun by a spectral parade of the sick, straining staff and supplies at medical outposts that could barely handle their needs before the epidemic.

At the three-room clinic near Limbe, in northern Haiti, a handful of doctors and nurses are treating 120 people packed into three rooms.

"It's really attacking us," Guy Valcoure, grandfather of the 16-month-old, says of the cholera. He piled on the back of a motorcycle with the baby and her mother to make a 40-minute ride in pre-dawn gloom to reach the clinic.

Holding a plastic cup in case his granddaughter gains enough strength to drink some water, Valcoure watches anxiously as a nurse tries without success to find a vein to give her intravenous fluids. Eventually, a doctor manages to get an IV into the baby's foot. "She's going to be OK," the nurse tells Valcoure.

Not everyone is so fortunate. It was too late to save an old woman carried to the clinic on a door over the weekend, says Dr. Benson Sergiles, a doctor from Cap-Haitien on loan to the clinic. "It's getting worse by the day," he says, his eyes bleary from being up all night.

And experts say the disease has not yet reached its peak.

The Health Ministry says there have been more than 80,000 cases since cholera was first detected in late October and the Pan-American Health Organization projects it could sicken 400,000 people within a year.

A makeshift clinic run by the aid group Doctors Without Borders in Cap-Haitien is seeing 250 patients a day and expects two or three times as many in coming weeks, said Dr. Esther Sterk, a physician from the Netherlands in charge of the treatment center in a crowded gymnasium.

The cases are also rising further into the countryside, as at the little clinic near Limbe.

"I don't think we're anywhere near the end of this," said Dr. John Jensen, a Canadian doctor volunteering with his wife, a nurse, for nearly a month at the clinic about 12 miles (20 kilometers) west of Cap-Haitien.

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