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Cholera cases spike in Haiti

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The rainy season has triggered more cases of cholera
  • Aid groups are scrambling to treat people
  • "The situation continues to deteriorate," the director of CARE in Haiti says

(CNN) -- Aid agencies are scrambling to respond to a resurgence of cholera cases in Haiti triggered by heavy rain.

The precipitation has created a fertile breeding ground for the bacteria that causes cholera.

The Pan American Health Organization warned the situation in Port-au-Prince continues to deteriorate and most cholera treatment centers are working at "full throttle."

The Haitian Ministry of Public Health reports 321,066 cases since the beginning of the outbreak last October, including 5,337 deaths. The latest numbers available, however, were as of May 29.

Samaritan's Purse, which is one of the many aid agencies that has set up cholera clinics, was receiving more than 300 sickened people a day over the weekend, said Roseann Dennery, the group's communications director.

"We've been hit really hard with rains lately, so we are preparing for more of the same this week," she said.

And more rain is on the way. The U.S. Climate Prediction Center has said the 2011 hurricane season is likely to bring a higher than normal number of storms in the Atlantic basin.

Cholera is caused by drinking tainted water and its symptoms can range from mild or even nonexistent to profuse diarrhea and vomiting. It's not difficult to deal with the disease but if left untreated, death from dehydration can come within a matter of hours.

"The situation continues to deteriorate," said Beat Rohr, director of CARE in Haiti. "We never stopped sensitizing the population about the importance of clean water and the need to wash their hands regularly. But it won't be enough."

 
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