Haitian cholera found to be similar to South Asian outbreak strain

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has found that the cholera strain in the Haiti outbreak is very similar to a strain from a South Asian outbreak.

The UN is currently investigating a claim that the excrement of Nepalese peacekeepers may have caused the epidemic, the BBC reports.

Despite this evidence and investigation, Haitian Health Minister Dr. Alex Larsen believes that the outbreak’s origin will probably never be known, according to the BBC.

“Although these results indicated that the strain is non-Haitian,” Larsen said, according to Agence France-Presse. “Strains may move between different areas due to global travel and trade.”

The suspicion of the Nepalese camp had originally risen due to the fact that cholera is rare in Haiti, while it is endemic in Nepal. Tests from the peacekeepers’ camp and nearby waters were negative, according to the UN, though the agency is still investigating the matter.

While cholera usually cannot be spread in a country with adequate sewage treatment in drinking water, the poor sanitary conditions of the slums and camps created after the January earthquake have left the inhabitants vulnerable to cholera, the BBC reports. Cholera spreads through water and food contaminated with bacteria.

According to health experts, the outbreak should lessen soon, but cholera will join tuberculosis and malaria as another endemic disease in Haiti, the BBC reports.

About 1.3 million survivors of the earthquake are currently living in the camps and tents around the capital.