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Cholera deaths in Haiti reach 442, health organization reports

Tropical Storm Tomas
Port-Au-Prince, Haiti - November 4, 2010 -(CNN) - A cholera outbreak in Haiti continues to spread to previously unaffected areas in rural communities, killing 442 people and hospitalizing 6,742 others, the Pan American Health Organization said Wednesday.

Health authorities are concerned that the situation may worsen as Tropical Storm Tomas approaches the impoverished nation, still recovering from a devastating January earthquake that killed 250,000 people and left 1 million homeless. Tomas is projected to pass over Haiti on Friday.

Health officials set up six cholera treatment centers in Port-au-Prince, the nation's capital. Four of the centers are fully operational, the Pan American Health Organization said. Four more are planned.

Officials hope to create 2,000 beds in the treatment centers, the health agency said.

In addition, the agency said, cholera treatment tents will be established at 14 hospitals in Port-au-Prince as soon as Tomas clears the island nation.

Cholera is an intestinal infection caused by ingestion of bacteria-contaminated food or water. The infection causes watery diarrhea and vomiting, which can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if not treated promptly. About 80 percent of cases can be cured by rehydrating the patient, the Pan American Health Organization said.

The disease is one of the leading causes of death in the world, particularly in developing countries. There are an estimated 3 million to 5 million cholera cases and 100,000 to 120,000 deaths every year worldwide, the health agency said.

Source: CNN

Haiti advises evacuation of all earthquake camps

November 3, 2010 - 6:10 pm - PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - More than 1 million people were advised to leave earthquake homeless camps in Haiti's rubble-choked capital Wednesday as disaster officials watched the approach of Tropical Storm Tomas.

Tropical Storm Tomas
  Source: Noaa.gov
But few of the earthquake survivors who have spent nearly 10 months alternately baking and soaking under plastic tarps and tents have anywhere to go.

Painfully slow reconstruction from the quake, prior storms and the recent committing of resources to fight a growing cholera epidemic have left people with few options and overtaxed aid workers struggling to help.

"We are using radio stations to announce to people that if they don't have a place to go, but they have friends and families, they should move into a place that is secure," said civil protection official Nadia Lochard, who oversees the department that includes Port-au-Prince.

Concerns are even greater in the western reaches of Haiti's southern peninsula, where heavy flooding is predicted. Disaster officials have extended a red alert, their highest storm warning, to all regions of the country, as the storm is expected to wind its way up the west coast of Hispaniola through storm-vulnerable Gonaives and Haiti's No. 2 city, Cap-Haitien, sometime Friday.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami announced a tropical storm warning for Haiti, along with tropical storm watches for Jamaica, the western Dominican Republic, eastern Cuba and the southeastern Bahamas as well as Turks and Caicos.

The storm, which strengthened from a tropical depression during the day, was 305 miles (490 kilometers) south of Port-au-Prince with maximum winds of 45 mph (75 kph). It began to make an expected right turn toward the Greater Antilles, moving north-northwest at 6 mph (9 kph).

Source: AP / MSN



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