Posts Tagged ‘UN Nepalese troops’

Case of UN cholera reaches Florida from Haiti while UN “spins” information

November 18, 2010

UPDATE from Operational Biosurveillance:

Current official stats are more than 18,382 cases and 1,110 fatalities.  This includes more than 1,800 cases in Port au Prince with over 30 fatalities.

  • Conservative estimates therefore suggest 75,000 cases of cholera in Haiti to-date, the majority of which were subclinical.
  • 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 case counts to be 250,000.
  • We are now pursuing answers to the question of uptake by indigenous zooplankton and spread along oceanic currents that pass west of the Gonave Gulf, which is where the Artibonite River discharges, north and west along the northern Cuban coastline and north to the waters east of Florida.
  • Tomorrow is Vertieres Day, where we may see some degree of population mixing, particularly in the north.  It is unclear at this time to what degree the recent violence will affect observance of the holiday.  Holidays are opportunities to spread disease further as populations intermingle.

As noted by HEAS one week ago and yesterday officially acknowledged, cholera is in the  Dominican Republic.  We expect to see medical clinic inundations inside DR in the near future.

As expected, Florida has reported a case of cholera in a returned traveler.  There will be more cases in the United States; we believe it likely more cases are inside the US unreported.  Implications for the United States are neglible.

The cholera introduced into Haiti by the UN has spread not only into the Dominican Republic but also to Florida through a traveller from Haiti. Diplomats have confirmed that the disease has come with UN troops from Nepal where the disease is endemic. It is unlikely to spread in the US since the propagation of cholera is through water or food that is contaminated by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.  For an epidemic, the source is often the feces of infected people. The New York Times reports:

The first known case of cholera in the United States linked to the outbreak in Haiti was confirmed Wednesday by health officials who said a southwest Florida woman contracted the disease while visiting family in a region at the heart of Haiti’s epidemic.

The Florida Department of Health was investigating several suspected cases of the disease elsewhere in the state. They were not believed to be connected to the verified patient, who sought treatment this month at a hospital emergency room in Collier County. The woman spent five days in hospital after developing diarrhea and dehydration, classic symptoms of cholera, following her return from Haiti, where she had spent time in the Artibonite region. She is expected to recover fully.

“We are lucky in the state of Florida, and the U.S. generally, to have a very sound infrastructure for our food, water and sewage,” said Rob Hayes, spokesman for the Florida Department of Health. “With that in place, and with our aggressive public health practices, we are not concerned about this being a significant public health threat.”

The situation is more dangerous in the Dominican Republic where conditions are more conducive to the spread of the disease. In Haiti official reports give over 1100 deaths and over 18,000 infected.

There are reports that the actual number of cases may be being grossly under-reported.

On November 14, Operational Biosurveillance said it confirmed statistics of up to 400% undercounting.

“We now have nearly 60k cases shedding pathogen into the environment. We believe the true statistic to be closer to more than 100k based on the degree of under-reporting. It is extremely difficult to estimate the true scale of this epidemic now. (It’s) grossly uncontrolled, uncontained, (and) has exceeded public health capacity to investigate and assess every site reported and every sample received.”

It seems that political considerations are now leading to all information being subject to political “spin”.

  1. For reasons of not upsetting the Nepalese Government and to defuse the local anger, the UN officially denies that the cholera originated with the troops from that country.
  2. With elections due in Haiti in just two weeks all information about the cause of the outbreak and the extent of the spread is being down-played to avoid further exploitation by some politicians and further riots.

Haiti – till now – had been free of cholera for over a hundred years. No doubt the priority now must be to treat those infected and contain the spread of the disease. But UN processes are clearly wanting and the sooner they come out of “denial” and address their own methods and processes the better.

Cholera in Haiti introduced by UN Nepalese troops confirms Swedish Ambassador

November 16, 2010
A man, apparently turning on a water pipe, is ...

"Turning on the cholera": Image via Wikipedia

It would seem that the cholera tap in Haiti was “turned” on by UN troops.

Translated freely from Svenska Dagbladet:

Violent riots have erupted in Haiti after rumors of the cholera infection
having originated from the Nepalese UN staff – something which the UN denied. But now, the Swedish Ambassador Claes Hammar has confirmed that the rumor is true. ” I’ve had it confirmed by a diplomatic source that the cholera comes from Nepa ” he told Svenska Dagbladet.

Since the earthquake on 12 January, cholera has taken hold in the extreme poor living conditions in Haiti. The epidemic broke out in October and since then more than 900 people have died and 15 000 are believed to be infected.

Violent riots broke out yesterday in the cities of Cap Haitien, Hinche and Milot, when hundreds of people attacked the UN mission, MINUSTAH. The riots began after a rumor that previously infected Nepalese UN personnel took cholera to the island. The UN has always denied the rumors.

But now Claes Hammar, Sweden’s ambassador to the country has confirmed for Svenska Dagbladet that the information is correct. Two weeks ago he visited Haiti. “Yes, unfortunately it is so. It has been shown that the cholera is from Nepal. This is obviously a strain of the disease that is prevalent in Nepal and now it seems that to have ended up in Haiti. I have received the information from a diplomatic source. It is 100 percent accurate. We have taken samples and traced the infection to Nepal”.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that the cholera epidemic in Haiti came from South Asia, but it had not identified any specific country. Cholera has never previously been detected in Haiti.

The cholera began to spread in areas that were not affected by the earthquake and only after the Nepalese forces arrived. The UN has also accepted that health problems exist at the UN base, but says that the soldiers are not behind the cholera outbreak.

“It is of course very sad that this has happened. But one should not forget the disease spreads because of poor hygiene. The UN is making great efforts to combat the outbreak “, said Claes Hammar.

The violence that erupted yesterday in Haiti occurred just two weeks before presidential and parliamentary elections due on November 28. Svenska Dagbladet can also reveal that, according to an internal UN report it is the notorious rebel leader Guy Philippe, wanted by U.S. authorities for drug smuggling, who is behind the riots.  He is thought to have started the riots across Haiti by sending out many text messages in which he asked the locals to attack the UN force. The UN headquarters in Cap Haitien was attacked by hundreds of people who threw stones and bottles.

The violence escalated later in the day, when several police stations were attacked and burned down. A hospital in the town of Milot was attacked by hundreds of people protesting that the hospital was accepting cholera patients. At the same time the Nepalese UN troops were subjected to stone throwing by a large crowd in the town of Hinche. The soldiers responded with tear gas. Local people also opened fire on UN troops in Cap Haitien who were forced to shoot back in self defense, according to a statement from the UN.
Two Haitians have died and dozens were injured in the disturbances. Seven of the United Nations force were injured.

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