Haiti government asks for international military assistance against cholera epidemic
The cholera epidemic in Haiti has reached a peak; at least 3,000 people have died and 10,000 others have been infected. Haiti declared a state of emergency to respond to the epidemic, allowing the country’s civil servants a period of immunity from mandatory quarantine and other restrictions.
The outbreak is a tragedy of humanity, but as always, there are a number of things that need to be considered. First, what is the source of cholera in Haiti? The virus does not appear to be indigenous to the Caribbean. The Haitian version of the disease is a strain (C. difficile) of Escherichia coli (Gram-negative) commonly found in the soil and water. It is also known as the “Klebsiella” genus. The other, more common, causes of diarrhea in Haiti are Clostridium 014 and Clostridium Perfringens. Of the three, most people with cholera get C. Perfringens, but some with the other strains of C. 014. This is why the government has been turning away all suspected cholera patients and requiring them to provide proof of identification.
Second, how did it arrive in Haiti? The World Health Organization believes that the cholera epidemic in Haiti was introduced in July 2009 and is due to a single, non-human reservoir. The first cases were believed to have been shipped via the Dominican Republic from Haiti to that country and then, later on, to the United States and Canada. There is a strong possibility that the US government was also the source of the cholera that arrived in Haiti. More recently, the US government has come out and said that the cause of the cholera epidemic is a natural one–and not of humans. The Haitians in Washington (Cabinet members), New York (congressmen), and Toronto (corporate lawyers) have been saying it’s a natural one for more than a year now. So that’s the source. Now, how did it arrive in Haiti? Since the disease is not indigenous to Haiti, one can’