- By Deb Balzer
Upsurge in cholera after Hurricane Matthew
More than 200 new cases of cholera have been reported in Haiti following the deadly impact of Hurricane Matthew. Cholera has been a problem in Haiti for more than six years. The World Health Organization says more than 790,000 cases of cholera with more than 9,300 deaths have been reported in Haiti since October 2010. Mayo Clinic internal medicine specialist Dr. Vandana Bhide says, "Cholera usually grows in water especially infected water and is spread from feces." Poor sanitation, especially following a hurricane, adds to the problem of infection and disease.
Symptoms of cholera include profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. It can cause severe dehydration and, left untreated, can be fatal in a matter of hours, even those who were previously healthy. Dr. Bhide says, "We are concerned about this. There are a lot of infections that can occur after a hurricane — most of which are water-related. Cholera is less common in the U.S., but is it is always a concern and one of the main reasons we urge people to boil water after a hurricane or storm."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says an estimated 3-5 million cases and more than 100,000 deaths occur each year around the world due to complications from cholera.