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Cholera Epidemic, Haiti | CDC EID

EID Journal Home > Volume 17, Number 7–July 2011
Volume 17, Number 7–July 2011

Understanding the Cholera Epidemic, Haiti
Renaud Piarroux,
Robert Barrais, Benoît Faucher, Rachel Haus, Martine Piarroux, Jean Gaudart, Roc Magloire, and Didier RaoultAuthor affiliations: Université de la Méditerranée, Marseilles, France (R. Piarroux, B. Faucher, J. Gaudart, D. Raoult); Ministère de la Santé Publique et de la Population, Port-au-Prince, Haiti (R. Barrais, R. Magloire); Service de Santé des Armées, Paris, France (R. Haus); and Martine Piarroux Université de Franche-Comté, Besançon, France (M. Piarroux)

Suggested citation for this article

After onset of a cholera epidemic in Haiti in mid-October 2010, a team of researchers from France and Haiti implemented field investigations and built a database of daily cases to facilitate identification of communes most affected. Several models were used to identify spatiotemporal clusters, assess relative risk associated with the epidemic's spread, and investigate causes of its rapid expansion in Artibonite Department. Spatiotemporal analyses highlighted 5 significant clusters (p<0.001): 1 near Mirebalais (October 16–19) next to a United Nations camp with deficient sanitation, 1 along the Artibonite River (October 20–28), and 3 caused by the centrifugal epidemic spread during November. The regression model indicated that cholera more severely affected communes in the coastal plain (risk ratio 4.91) along the Artibonite River downstream of Mirebalais (risk ratio 4.60). Our findings strongly suggest that contamination of the Artibonite and 1 of its tributaries downstream from a military camp triggered the epidemic.

On October 21, 2010, the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) reported a cholera epidemic caused by Vibrio cholerae O1, serotype Ogawa, biotype El Tor (1). This epidemic was surprising as no cholera outbreak had been reported in Haiti for more than a century (1,2). Numerous media rapidly related the epidemic to the deadly earthquake that Haiti had experienced 9 months earlier. However, simultaneously, a rumor held recently incoming Nepalese soldiers responsible for importing cholera, along with accusations of illegal dumping of waste tank contents (3). A cholera outbreak was indeed reported in Nepal's capital city of Kathmandu on September 23, 2010, shortly before troops left for Haiti (4,5). Two hypotheses then emerged to explain cholera in Haiti.

Some researchers posited the transmission of an environmental strain to humans (6). Reasoning by analogy with cholera epidemiology in South Asia, they hypothesized that weather conditions, i.e., the La Niña phenomenon, might have promoted the growth of V. cholerae in its environmental reservoir (6). The second hypothesis suggested importation of the disease from a cholera-endemic country. The sequencing of 2 isolates of V. cholerae supported this second hypothesis by establishing an exogenous origin, probably from southern Asia or eastern Africa (7). Responding to a request from Haitian authorities to the French Embassy for the support of epidemiologists, we conducted a joint French–Haitian investigation during November 7–November 27, 2010, to clarify the source of the epidemic and its unusual dynamic.
Morbidity and Mortality Survey

Cholera Epidemic, Haiti CDC EID

Suggested Citation for this Article

Piarroux R, Barrais R, Faucher B, Haus R, Piarroux M, Gaudart J, et al. Understanding the cholera epidemic, Haiti. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2011 Jul [date cited]. http://www.cdc.gov/EID/content/17/7/1161.htm

DOI: 10.3201/eid1707.110059

Comments to the Authors
Please use the form below to submit correspondence to the authors or contact them at the following address:
Renaud Piarroux, Université de la Méditerranée, UMR MD3, Faculte de Medecine de la Timone, 27 Boulevard Jean Moulin, CEDEX 05, Marseille 13385, France; email: renaud.piarroux@ap-hm.fr

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