Haiti fears epidemic despite 'stabilisation' claims

Haiti fears epidemic despite 'stabilisation' claims
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Health officials in Haiti say there are signs the cholera outbreak is stabilising in the worst affected areas. But the claims are being greeted with some skepticism and there are fears the disease could spread, causing an epidemic.

President Rene Preval has visited the town at the centre of the outbreak in the Artibonite region.
More than 3,000 cases have been reported and more than 250 people have died.

Hospitals are struggling to cope. The number of new cases and deaths in the most critical areas is said to have diminished.

But doctors say the disease is spreading.

“We know that it’s cholera but we don’t know how the cholera has gotten into the water stream,” said Dr Ian Rawson at a hospital in La Chapelle. “We’re starting to see patients just from this area, before there weren’t. So now we don’t know how it’s spreading from one geographic area to another.”

Despite reports of a stabilising trend, there are fears the outbreak could spread to Port-au-Prince, where squalid camps house more than a million earthquake survivors seen as vulnerable to cholera.

A handful of cases have been reported in the capital, thought to be people who had traveled from the outbreak zone.

Treatment centres are being erected as aid agencies prepare for a possible epidemic.

The cholera outbreak is the second emergency to strike the western hemisphere’s poorest country this year, following January’s earthquake.

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