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Haitians suffer cholera outbreak amid squalid conditions

A woman waits outside a medical facility in St. Marc, where patients are being treated during a cholera epidemic. (Thony Belizaire/AFP/Getty Images)

Yesterday, the United Nations dispatch blog reported a "mystery" illness killing people in Haiti. Today that mystery illness has been identified: cholera.

The water-borne disease has struck Artibonite, an area where many displaced people from Port au Prince relocated after the devastating earthquake.

The Associated Press reported that as of Friday morning 142 people have died and more than 1,000 infected people were hospitalized.

The outbreak has long been feared by relief groups, concerned for the refugees living in tarp-tent cities with poor sanitation and squalid conditions.

"This is what happens when people experience 'difficulties accessing safe drinking water.' It is not just dangerous in the abstract. It is deadly." Mark Leon Goldberg writes on the UN dispatch blog.

Haitian radio host Carel Pedre has been tweeting photographs from the main St. Marc hospital dealing with the outbreak.

#Cholera #Haiti last update: 1498 people affected... 134 deaths in 2 days ...less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

Describing the tent shelters, Mother Jones' Mac McClelland wrote on Wednesday,

Daniel's shelter, like the rest, is several sheets of sturdy plastic cobbled together. The "ceiling" is uneven, low, and leaky. It's built on a steep dirt slope. Water comes in from all directions when it rains. And oh, how it rains.

If the outbreak spreads, officials fear it could unleash a public health disaster.

(Thony Belizaire/AFP/Getty Images)
People wash themselves in a street in Haiti. (Patrice Coppee/AFP/Getty Images))
A man looks from inside his tent in Port-au-Prince. (Ramon Espinosa/AP)
A sewage drain separates the street and and a displacement camp in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

By Melissa Bell  | October 22, 2010; 10:41 AM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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Now America knows where its troops and humanitarian supplies are really needed.
And Mr. Obama knows.
Hopefully he will finally get together with leaders like Canada's Prime Minister Harper, to immediately assemble a large emergency team from the tens of thousands of Haitians living in North America, and ask them to help this impoverished nation build in a country that most expatriates would love to return to -- because it has such great potential.

Posted by: Rudy7 | October 22, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

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