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17 November 2010

Cholera outbreak spreads to DR, US

Today a widely expected event was paired with a fairly unexpected one. The cholera outbreak is now officially reported in three countries. Haiti, where it has been contained up until this point, the Dominican Republic, which has been susceptible from the beginning, and the United States.

The US case has been contained. The woman had been in the valley where the original outbreak occurred in Haiti. Current reports suggest that it is a single case, with little to no chance of it spreading from one person to another inside the US. At the same time, there could be additional cases that are similar to this one, as aid workers return home from Haiti.

The Dominican Republic is another matter altogether. The cases are extremely similar, an individual returned from an infected region of Haiti to their home country, already infected. Although significantly wealthier than Haiti, the Dominican Republic does not have the same capacity to stop infection as the United States. Further complicating the situation for the Dominican Republic is the border it shares with Haiti. Incapable of preventing illegal immigration, infected individuals can, and likely have, crossed into the Dominican Republic.

Meanwhile in Haiti, the disease continues to spread. more than 1,100 people have died with nearly 20,000 individuals having been hospitalized. The disease had been spreading slowly, but the degrading of already poor water sources by the passage of Hurricane Tomas has greatly accelerated the spread of the water-borne disease.

Read more here about the panic that is starting to spread in Haiti, including blaming UN peacekeepers, primarily those from Nepal.

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