U.N. names four person panel to probe Haiti cholera outbreak

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has named four experts from the United States, India and Latin America, who will begin probing the source of the cholera epidemic in Haiti that has led to over 3,400 deaths.

Some Haitians and research teams believe that a group of U.N. Nepalese peacekeepers were the cause of the outbreak that began in October. In December, U.S. researchers reported that the strain of cholera was from south Asia and was similar to a strain circulating in Bangladesh, according to Reuters.

The U.N. has said that there is currently no scientific evidence that the Nepalese battalion is responsible for the epidemic.

"There remain fair questions and legitimate concerns that demand the best answer that science can provide," Ban said, Reuters reports.

The panel will be chaired by Alejandro Cravioto, a Mexican who works at the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research in Bangladesh. The other members include Daniele Lantagne of Harvard University, Balakrish Nair of India's National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Disease, and Claudio LAnata of the Instituto de Investigacion Nutritional in Peru.

The panel will review all data and information, travel to Haiti to conduct investigations and operate independently of the United Nations.

Cholera is caused by a bacterium that spreads when infected fecal matter gets into seafood, other food or unchlorinated water.