The mayor of a small town in Haiti has warned his country faces ‘catastrophe’ as the epidemic of cholera threatens to surge out of control. Pierrelus Saint-Justin said he personally had buried 31 victims in Gonaives this week, and more people were dying all the time.
The disease is spreading rapidly, and has moved from rural areas to towns including the capital Port-au-Prince. Hospitals and emergency medical centres are already overwhelmed, with nearly 650 people confirmed dead. Port-au-Prince is home to some three million people, mostly living in squalor following January’s devastating earthquake and last week’s drenching by Hurricane Tomas.
Cholera had never been known in Haiti until last month when several people suddenly contracted the disease and died. The strain is similar to that found in South Asia, but doctors have no idea how it arrived in Haiti. Aid workers are doing what they can, but Haiti’s Health Ministry said the entire nation is now under threat.
Cholera is treatable with clean water and intravenous fluids, but it’s feared the poorest country in the Americas will suffer for years to come.