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people in haiti recieving assistance A Cuban doctor treats children suffering from cholera at the L'Estere hospital in St. Marc, Haiti, on Oct. 26, 2010. (Photo: x99/ZUMA Press/Newscom)

Cholera Outbreak in Haiti

Country deals with another big problem as it rebuilds

By Mari Chiles | null null , null

As Haiti struggled to rebuild a year after a devastating earthquake, the people were forced to deal with a new problem: cholera.

Cholera was confirmed as a disease in Haiti in October 2010. Usually cholera is spread through contaminated water or food. Robert Tauxe, an epidemiologist at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, thinks this is how the disease spread. He added that the CDC was very surprised about the cholera outbreak in Haiti.

"We were worried that something would happen after the earthquake, but we didn't think it would be cholera," said Tauxe, who was interviewed at the CDC headquarters in Atlanta. Cholera is usually found in Africa and Asia. "Cholera had not been in Haiti for a very long time; maybe 150 years," said Tauxe.

Cholera is basically very bad dehydration. With various symptoms you can lose water at a very surprising rate that could bring you to shock. Shock is when your blood does not have enough water in it to keep flowing so it becomes very thick and cannot flow anymore. In 12 hours, cholera can kill a person without the right treatment. But with the right treatment, it can be cured easily.

To get rid of cholera, you would have to drink a mixture of salt, sugar, water and some other ingredients to make up for all of the body fluids that were lost. Less than one percent of the people with cholera die after they have drank this mixture. This cure was discovered about forty years ago. This mixture is actually called Pedialite in America, and is available at many stores.

Before the earthquake, Haiti was still in some very bad conditions. There are about 10,000,000 people in Haiti. "When the earthquake happened suddenly over 1,000,000 people did not have homes," said Tauxe. "Imagine living in a tent for a year. Some of them still don't have homes," confirmed Tauxe. The earthquake had a huge role in the cholera outbreak.

At the start of the outbreak, "1,000 people were being hospitalized every day," Tauxe said. "That's bad."

Doctors in Haiti and groups like the CDC and other non-government organizations sprang into action to help cure patients with cholera.

"Ever since the outbreak we have been working with the health department in Haiti," said Tauxe. "The first thing that the CDC did was help confirm that it was cholera. The day after we found out it was cholera, we sent a team of disease detectives (or epidemiologists, just like Tauxe) to Haiti to confirm it was cholera, help treat it, and help prevent it," Tauxe said.

Since Haiti needed a lot of help, there are many organizations pitching in. "There are many governmental organizations helping. There are other countries, too, like the UN, and also non-governmental organizations are helping like Care or The Red Cross. There are even individual groups like church groups that have been helping with the reconstruction."

A year after the earthquake, doctors from Haiti, the United States, and even people from different continents are working together to help the Haitian people. Everyone is making a difference in the lives of the people in Haiti.


More than a million people remain homeless and schools are just now being rebuilt in Haiti a year after the country's capital city was devastated by a major earthquake on January 12, 2010. Scholastic Kid Reporters continue their reporting on the earthquake with stories about how people are continuing to help the embattled country in the Crisis in Haiti: One Year Later Special Report.


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