Cholera returns to Haiti as nation lurches from one crisis to the next
A man holds cholera victim in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. A man holds cholera victim in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo: FREDESCIO GONZALEZ/AFP/Getty Images Photo: FREDESCIO GONZALEZ/AFP/Getty Images Image 1 of / 1 Caption Close Cholera returns to Haiti as nation lurches from one crisis to the next 1 / 1 Back to Gallery
Fifty years after a cholera epidemic wiped out half the city of Port-au-Prince, the disease has returned, and in the capital it has spread through the impoverished slums of the inner city.
Haitians have been infected by cholera for a long time. Their ancestors brought the illness with them from the Americas almost 1,000 years ago, and it became widespread in the country’s south in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Today, Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. In the five-year period ending in March, more than 843,000 people died, one-third of them under age 5. Among the nearly 7 million impoverished Haitians, cholera remains the leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability, second only to malaria.
In August, a cholera epidemic was declared by the International Health Emergency Committee and the World Health Organization (WHO), the first time the disease had been declared in Haiti since its devastating 1832 epidemic.
The cholera outbreak was triggered by a single person who contracted the disease from eating contaminated food at a restaurant called La Boulouse. No other person in the restaurant or the surrounding community has contracted cholera, the committee said.
The virus spread into Port-au-Prince by February, when people began catching it elsewhere, the committee said in its statement. There were more than 500 suspected