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British Red Cross treating cholera-like symptoms in Port au Prince

Wednesday 10th November 2010
For further information please contact

Mark South: MSouth@redcross.org.uk, 0207 877 7042, out of hours 07659 145 095

  • Fears of cholera in the capital rise as scores fall ill

The British Red Cross has provided care for 30 people in Port-au-Prince suffering cholera-like symptoms.

Coming just days after Hurricane Tomas swept past the country, the development further raises the spectre of the disease, which could prove fearsome in the densely populated capital.

“So far we have treated 30 people at our Observation Centre with rehydration salts and intravenous drips, and referred seven to more advanced medical facilities,” said Borry Jatta, British Red Cross sanitation expert in Port-au-Prince.

 “We are waiting on test results to confirm if these cases are cholera or not, but for safety’s sake we have to assume they are.

“Since the earthquake we have been preparing for something like this, and have been scaling up our response in Port-au-Prince to try to limit the spread of disease and ensure those who do fall ill get the treatment they need.”

 So far one case of cholera has been confirmed in Port-au-Prince and health workers are reporting a further 115 suspected cases in the Haitian capital.

Following a request from the Haitian government last week, the Red Cross has set up one cholera treatment centre, as well as an observation centre in La Piste camp in Port-au-Prince, home to 50,000 people.

Hundreds of Red Cross hygiene promotion volunteers have been trained in cholera preparedness and prevention, and are going door-to-door across camps to make sure people know how to keep themselves and their families safe.

Hygiene messages have also reached hundreds-of-thousands of people through the SMS and local broadcast and print media.

The Red Cross has increased the chlorination of toilets and other possible points of transmission in the camps where it is working, is boosting supplies of intravenous drips, rehydration salts and antibiotics, and continues to deliver 2.5 million litres of clean water every day.

“Once people have the disease treatment is vital, but prevention is the real key. Providing clean water and sanitation, and letting people know how they can protect themselves can cut the chain of transmission,” added Jatta.

“In the camps we can provide those elements, but there are hundreds-of-thousands more living in Port-au-Prince who don’t have access to clean water, and who don’t have access to decent toilets.

“We are doing all we can, but despite that, cholera in Port-au-Prince still has the potential to be a massive humanitarian disaster. “

ENDS

Notes to editors

Spokespeople are available on the ground in Haiti,

For interviews, images or more information, please call Mark South on 020 7877 7042 or 07659 145 095

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.

 

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