This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cholera Adds to Haiti's Woes

In some ways it is surprising that cholera is only now emerging as an issue in Haiti, several months after the disastrous earthquake that leveled Port-au-Prince and left a large segment of the population as virtual refugees in their own country. But emerging it is, thus far only in one rural area, but of course the fear is that it will spread.

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.
UPDATE: Although it has not yet been confirmed, there is suspicion that cholera was brought to Haiti by Nepalese peace-keepers working with the United Nations. All cases have occurred downstream from the camp in which they are based and it is believed that human excrement (the mode of transmission) has been dumped in the nearby river.

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