More than 250 die of cholera in Haiti

Port-au-Prince, the capital of the island nation of Haiti, is facing a major cholera epidemic, with more than 250 people killed and health officials continuing to detect new cases in the city.

Authorities fear the disease will spread quickly through the city’s slums and camps, according to The Guardian. The government and aid agencies were quick to set up aid stations and treatment centers in the rural areas north of the capital where the outbreak began and in the capital itself, where it appears to be heading.

"Cholera centers are going up as we speak," Melody Munz, the environmental health coordinator for the International Rescue Committee, said, according to The Guardian. "We are moving as fast as possible without slipping into panic. It's very worrying. This can spread very rapidly."

Cholera is an intestinal infection that is caused by bacteria that is transmitted through contaminated food and water. Already, over 3,000 people have been confirmed sick with the often devastating diarrheal disease. The outbreak has become the worst health crisis Haiti has seen since the major earthquake in January.

There is hope that the worst of the outbreak may be ready to pass, according to government health officials.

"We have registered a diminishing in numbers of deaths and of hospitalized people in the most critical areas," Gabriel Thimote, director-general of Haiti's health department, told a news conference, The Guardian reports. "The tendency is that it is stabilizing, without us being able to say that we have reached a peak."

Regardless, the speed with which the government established 12 cholera centers shows that they are preparing for the worst case scenario. Authorities are urging people to wash their hands, boil what they drink and not to eat raw vegetables. They are also warning against bathing in or drinking from rivers.