Cholera spreading in Haitian capital

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Cholera spreading in Haitian capital

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Doctors in Haiti say the cholera epidemic is spreading rapidly in Port-au-Prince, aggravated by the density of the population.

At an improvised hospital set up by the organisation Doctors Without Borders, they are seeing dozens of patients every day – and numbers are rising.

The disease has killed more than 800 people across the country; more than 11,000 have been infected.

Fears are growing for the population in the capital.

“If we make a survey, we can say that the people are more contaminated between person and person. It’s not really a contamination of water,” said Virgine Gauder, a nurse. “And for sure, here in Port-au-Prince it’s the proximity of the population. They are living in some slums, and there is really no space. The contamination really increases every day like this.”

Appalling living conditions are making the fight to contain the epidemic all the harder.

More than a million earthquake survivors live in the makeshift tent and tarpaulin camps. Flooding caused by Hurricane Tomas earlier this month made things worse.

Authorities have ruled out vaccinations for the moment, saying they are impractical and ineffective in such conditions.

There is a risk of transmission to other countries, with neighbouring Dominican Republic on high alert.