Thursday, January 12, 2012

First case of Cholera in Haiti

Man collecting water in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Earlier this week a Boston aid group reported that it had tracked down the first person to be infected by Cholera in Haiti's epidemic. Cholera had been eliminated from Haiti for many decades prior to the recent earthquake

A mentally ill man who bathed in and drank from a contaminated river most likely was the first person to be infected in the Caribbean country's deadly cholera outbreak. Althoug the man's family had access to clean drinking water he bathed in and drank frequently from a river into which the Meye River fed. The Meye has been identified as the likely source of the epidemic. Studies suggest the cholera was likely brought to Haiti by a United Nations peacekeeping battalion from Nepal, where the disease is endemic.

"It's a striking example of how mental health, infectious disease and community health affects overall well-being." Dr David Waltern, a co-author of the study.

Given the conditions in Haiti it is perhaps inevitable that cholera might break out but this interaction with mental health is especially interesting, and tragic.

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