CARE Braces for Potential Spread of Cholera in Haiti

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Atlanta: Brian Feagans,
bfeagans@care.org
,
+1.404.979.9453, +1.404.457.4644
Geneva: Melanie Brooks,
brooks@careinternational.org,
+41.22.795.1024, +41.79.590.3047

CARE Braces for Potential Spread of Cholera in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE - CARE is
mobilizing staff and stockpiling supplies in response to a deadly
cholera outbreak that health officials fear could spread beyond the
Artibonite region of Haiti. More than 138 people have already died, and
1,526 cases have been confirmed.

"Cholera hasn't reached
Port-au-Prince, but it would be devastating if it hit the camps in and
around the capital," said Virginia Ubik, CARE Haiti's country director.
"The people live in such dense proximity that any outbreak of disease
would spread rapidly. Hygiene is very poor in the camps already, making
people very susceptible to disease. We're very lucky that we haven't had
a major outbreak of disease since the earthquake, but it might happen
now."

The government of Haiti confirmed today that the disease
is cholera. Local medical services in the affected area are working
around the clock to treat patients, and the humanitarian community has
begun to respond.

The outbreak in Artibonite spread within a
matter of days, raising fears that it could flare up in other regions of
the country just as quickly. CARE, whose ongoing health programs in and
around Port-au-Prince are part of its earthquake response program, has
ordered an initial supply of water purification tablets and hygiene
materials. CARE also is procuring additional supplies and oral
rehydration salts in case a cholera outbreak reaches Port-au-Prince.
CARE, which has worked in Haiti since 1954, has started cholera
awareness and education among its staff, preparing them for a response
to a wider outbreak.

Cholera is a waterborne disease that
causes acute watery diarrhea, allowing the disease to spread very
quickly. Without treatment, more than 50 percent of people infected are
likely to die. Cholera can be prevented by providing clean drinking
water, good sanitation and prompt treatment to people infected.

CARE
is operating earthquake response programs, including health
interventions, in Carrefour, a densely populated sector of
Port-au-Prince, and in outlying Léogâne. CARE's ongoing health and
hygiene activities include distribution of water to spontaneous
settlements; building, rehabilitating and cleaning latrines;
cash-for-work activities to clear waste in camps; hygiene promotion; and
support for hygiene attendants.

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CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. We place special focus on working alongside poor women because, equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty. Women are at the heart of CARE's community-based efforts to improve basic education, prevent the spread of HIV, increase access to clean water and sanitation, expand economic opportunity and protect natural resources. CARE also delivers emergency aid to survivors of war and natural disasters, and helps people rebuild their lives.

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