Warden Message Cholera Outbreak in the Artibonite Alert – Additional Information

U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince posted the following information on October 22, 2010:

The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince is posting this message to alert U.S. citizens that local hospitals and clinics in Artibonite Province (Dauphin, Drouin, Poirier, Villard, Deschapelles and Pisto) and in Central Province (Mirebalais) have reported more than 1,500 cases and more than 150 deaths from acute watery diarrhea and vomiting, which laboratory tests have now confirmed were caused by cholera.

United States government agencies on the ground in Haiti, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), are working closely with the Haitian Ministry of Health and Population (MSPP), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and other international partners to respond to an outbreak of cholera that has struck the Artibonite and Central Departments.  This is the first confirmed outbreak in Haiti in almost 50 years.

Local hospitals and clinics in Artibonite Province (Dauphin, Drouin, Poirier, Villard, Deschapelles, and Pisto), and in Central Provice (Mirebalais), have reported cases.  There is an unconfirmed report from Radio Metropole of fifteen cases in Gonâve Island.  Symptoms reported include acute watery diarrhea and vomiting.  All ages are reportedly affected.  So far the investigation into the cause of the disease has revealed no common exposures to foods, chemicals, or events.  More than 1,500 cases and more than 150 deaths have been reported.

Together with the Government of Haiti, CDC, MSPP, PAHO and several other international health agencies, we are working vigorously to contain and curtail the outbreak. CDC scientists have been working in Haiti since before the earthquake, and have established reportable disease surveillance and robust laboratory capacity in Haiti that is supporting the investigation and containment of the outbreak.

CDC is collaborating with USAID, UNICEF, PAHO, MSPP and other agencies to rapidly identify the cause of the outbreak, ensure access to medical treatment for the disease and to prevent further spread. Utilizing public health systems and surveillance networks developed jointly in the aftermath of the January 12 earthquake, CDC assisted the MSPP national laboratory in testing samples and sent an epidemiological team to the affected area to begin investigating the outbreak.

USAID has proactively mobilized 300,000 pre-positioned oral rehydration  salt treatment kits to affected areas and is working with international partners to mobilize intravenous fluids to hospitals and clinics in the area.  Water purification products are being distributed in affected communities to treat household water supplies. We are also coordinating with our international partners, including in the Health and WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) clusters, to take measures to prevent the spread of the potential outbreak to Port-au-Prince, including increased surveillance of water points for chlorine levels. In partnership with the Ministry of Health, local health departments, and international agencies, we are conducting a public health information campaign on hygiene and proper water sanitation management to mitigate further outbreak.

Steps people, including travelers to Haiti, can take to protect themselves:

·Wash your hands often with soap and clean water or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner (with at least 60% alcohol).

·Clean your hands especially before you eat or prepare food and after using the bathroom.

·Eat foods that are packaged or that are freshly cooked and served hot.

· Do not eat raw and undercooked meats and seafood or unpeeled fruits and vegetables.

· Drink only bottled, boiled, or chemically treated water and bottled or canned carbonated beverages.

· When using bottled drinks, make sure that the seal has not been broken.

· Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes.

· To disinfect your own water: boil for 1 minute or filter the water and add 2 drops of household bleach or ½ an iodine tablet per liter of water.

· Use bottled, boiled, or chemically treated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, or make ice.

·  For more information about health precautions for travelers see http://www.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/haiti.aspx.

American citizens are advised to avoid the areas listed above and should monitor media coverage to stay abreast of the situation as it develops. U.S. citizens are advised to maintain an increased level of vigilance when traveling in and around Port-au-Prince.  They should be aware of their surroundings at all times and are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy.  They can do so at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/.

Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the U.S. Embassy’s website the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information can be found. The U.S. Embassy also encourages U.S. citizens to review “A Safe Trip Abroad,” found at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/safety/safety_1747.html, which includes valuable security information for those both living and traveling abroad. In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada, or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.

For emergencies involving American citizens, please contact the American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit of the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section, located at Boulevard du 15 Octobre, Tabarre 41, Tabarre, Haiti; telephone (509) 2-229-8000; after hours emergency telephone (509) 2-229-8000; ACS Unit fax (509) 2-229-8027; and e-mail at acspap@state.gov.

American Citizen Services Unit
US Embassy Port-au-Prince
Blvd 15 Octobre, Tabarre 41
Tabarre, Haiti


Author: `