Haitian cholera outbreak passes 8,000 deaths

The cholera outbreak in Haiti that began in October 2010 reached 8,053 deaths overall, according to Haiti's Ministry of Public Health and Population.

Roc Magloire, the ministry's director of epidemiology, laboratory and research, said in close to two and a half years, the number of cholera cases reached 651,250. Magloire said Haitians in the Central, North and Artibonite departments regions are currently experiencing high infection levels, Prensa Latina reports.

Of the 10 million residents of Haiti, approximately two percent have access to clean drinking water. Most of the population lives in unsanitary conditions, using exposed places like rivers as a latrine.

In October, Daniele Lantagne, a U.S. doctor hired by the United Nations to study the origin of the outbreak, said it was likely the source was a camp of Nepalese peacekeepers from the U.N. Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti. Lantagne found the genomic sequence of the cholera strain was an exact match of a strain found in Nepal.

In June, researchers suggested the epidemic may have been caused by two different strains of cholera, Prensa Latina reports.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by an intestinal infection with the Vibrio cholerae bacteria. The CDC estimates three to five million cases and more than 100,000 deaths are caused each year by cholera.