CDC pinpoints source of Haiti cholera

According to the July issue of the CDC's Emerging Infectious Diseases, the cholera epidemic currently sweeping Haiti was brought to the country by the United Nations.

The cholera outbreak began on October 18, the CDC reports, beginning in the town of Meille, Haiti. The first hospitalized patients were from a family in a village hosting a camp for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, according to Defend Haiti.

Epidemiologists found a pipe in Meille that discharged refuse from the U.N. camp into a nearby river, which was used by villagers for drinking and cooking water.

By October 21, the epidemic had spread to Mirebalais, where residents were using water drawn from the river while their water supply network was being repaired.

The source of the cholera virus was ascertained by studying a nearby prison. Thirty-four cases of cholera were reported and the prison resulting in four deaths, Defend Haiti reports. No other cause for the infections was found beyond water from the stream.

Sanitary deficiencies in the camp were corrected on October 31, which was when the daily incidence of cholera began to decrease before returning on November 30.

Prior to the October outbreak, Haiti had not been detected in Haiti for some time. To date, the outbreak has resulted in more than 5,400 deaths.