Cholera Vaccine Trials in Haiti

by Art Writ, October 23rd, 2011

Cholera epidemic has been bothering the globe because of its debilitating effects to the health of the people. Just last year, cholera has infected numerous numbers of individuals and about 6,500 of them were killed because of the said disease. Today, the health ministry of Haiti will be conducting a cholera vaccine test among hundreds of people, officials said.

According to the WHO, cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Every year, there are an estimated 3–5 million cholera cases and 100 000–120 000 deaths due to cholera. The short incubation period of two hours to five days, enhances the potentially explosive pattern of outbreaks.

Cholera is an extremely virulent disease. It affects both children and adults and can kill within hours.

About 75% of people infected with V. cholerae do not develop any symptoms, although the bacteria are present in their faeces for 7–14 days after infection and are shed back into the environment, potentially infecting other people.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also envisions long term strategies in combating cholera which include improvements in water supply, widespread awareness on proper sanitation, safety food handling techniques, and community awareness on the preventive measures are the best and most effective way in order to eradicate and alleviate cholera and other water-borne and food-borne diseases, across the whole globe.

However, new strategies are now being tested for its efficacy and effectiveness which can be incorporated with the traditional measures of preventing cholera. One of these measures is the cholera vaccine which will be tested among hundreds of people in Haiti, more specifically; the population who will be given the vaccine will include the people from a Port-au-Prince shantytown and a rural area in the center of the country where cholera was first detected back in the year 2010.

“The Shanchol vaccine will be administered orally to the patients in two doses at six-month intervals. It has been approved by the World Health Organization but it won’t replace better informing the public.” General Timothe, Health Ministry Director General, said.

Oral cholera vaccines are now widely used in some other countries which are known to have heightened risk of cholera outbreaks. The vaccine main goal is to immune the whole population, especially those who are more predisposed to have the disease such as the children. In addition, evidences based on the use of cholera vaccines are gaining a lot of good results.

“There is a low level of mortality. We will deploy teams to intensify our hygiene information campaign,” Timothe uttered.

Although oral cholera vaccines can help, still the epidemic of cholera in Haiti is at large, and it needs a lot of hard work in order to prevent and decrease the number of people being infected, according to an aid agency. Proper sanitation and widespread awareness of the community on how to actually prevent this epidemic should come together with the massive vaccination against cholera.

The challenge still remains to the government and health officials of the said locality in reducing and to an extent alleviating the extensive cholera epidemic.


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