Haiti cholera death toll revised up to 2,000, elections this weekend

The UN has has released revised information about the cholera outbreak in Haiti. What they are reporting now is what others were reporting already last week:


A baby and other patients suffering from acute diarrhoea lie on the floor of St. Nicholas Hospital in Haiti: photo UN

The number of reported cases of cholera in Haiti is now approaching 50,000, but health experts have cautioned that the figure could be higher because data on the epidemic has not been received from some rural communities, a United Nations relief official said today. Nigel Fisher, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Haiti, said that epidemiologists in the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) – the regional arm of the World Health Organization (WHO) – estimate that the number of cases could be as high as 70,000.

The experts have said that the disease might have claimed as many as 2,000 people, with some fatalities in remote areas going unreported. Speaking via a video link from the capital, Port-au-Prince, Mr. Fisher told a news conference in New York that PAHO epidemiologists have also revised their projections of the spread of the disease and now anticipate that cases could rise to 200,000 over the next three months. The experts had earlier estimated that the number of cases could rise to that figure in six months.

“This epidemic is moving faster,” Mr. Fisher said.

Meanwhile, general elections will proceed on Sunday as planned, despite the cholera outbreak and the recent streets protests in the country, Edmond Mulet, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), told the same press briefing.

Operational Biosurveillance had reported similar figures last week and now says:

  • In some areas of Haiti, we have confirmation that in-patient statistics are under-reported by as much as 400%. In many areas of Haiti, we are documenting outbreaks that are not being accounted for in the official statistics.  We therefore estimate the upper bound of estimated total (subclinical and clinically apparent) case counts to be nearly 375,000.
  • It is likely the elections will facilitate the spread of the epidemic due to population mixing.

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