Cholera after the earthquake [New photos from Haiti]
January 12, 2011 by Gerald Martone
|At an IRC clinic in Port-au-Prince, patients are screened for diarrhea and dehydration. Photo: Gerald Martone/IRC|
One year ago today a massive earthquake killed 230,000 people in Haiti and left more than a million homeless. Now, Haitians who are still struggling to recover from the quake are dealing with yet another crisis: an outbreak of cholera that started just a couple of months ago.
Cholera is a very deadly bacterial disease spread by contaminated water. When someone drinks water that has been infected by human waste, they quickly become sick with violent vomiting and diarrhea.
The diarrhea from cholera is so acute that a person can lose 10-20% of their body weight in just a few hours. The cause of death is rapid dehydration.
Fortunately this disease is easy to treat and even easier to prevent. International Rescue Committee cholera response teams are operating in 30 camps throughout the capital Port-au-Prince teaching people about the disease, how to treat it, and how to prevent it. I took these photos of some of the teams at work over the past week.