Cholera deaths climb in southwest Haiti

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Dec 6, 2010 (CIDRAP News) –Cholera deaths are climbing in southwestern Haiti, an area that had been previously spared by the outbreak, as health officials face prevention challenges from local beliefs that the disease is caused by supernatural forces.

About 140 deaths have been reported in Grand Anse department, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today. Dr Duvelson Angello, a physician in the department, told AFP that high numbers of deaths are being reported in areas where people link the disease with witchcraft. He added that some people aren't following health recommendations because they believe that cholera is supernatural.

Crowds in the area recently killed at least 14 people they believe to have spread cholera through witchcraft, AFP reported.

On a nationwide level the number of cholera cases has grown to 91,770, which includes 43,243 hospitalizations and 2,071 deaths, according to a Dec 3 report from Haiti's health ministry. The three departments reporting the highest number of cases are still Artibonite, North, and Northwest.

In the neighboring Dominican Republic, the health ministry has received reports of 16 cholera cases, an increase of 4 from the total reported on Dec 3, Xinhua, China's state news agency, reported yesterday. Bautista Rojas, the Dominican Republic's public health minister, said the latest case is in a 39-year-old man from the south who has been hospitalized and is in good condition.

In other developments, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a Dec 3 update that Haiti has received 20% of $174 million it needs for cholera outbreak response. The largest need area is water and sanitation, followed by health response.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that as of Dec 3, 28 of its staff had been deployed to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The total number of CDC staffers participating in outbreak response activities, from laboratory scientists to information technology specialists, is 185.

See also:

Dec 3 Haiti health ministry report

Dec 5 Xinhua story

Dec 3 CDC cholera outbreak update

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