The number of cases of cholera in the nations of the island of Hispaniola are up in 2015 compared to the same period in 2014, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Wednesday.
In Haiti, from January up to 25 July 2015 (Epidemiological week EW 30), there were 20,043 cholera cases, including 15,921 hospitalizations (79% hospitalization rate), and 171 deaths (case fatality rate of 0.7%).
In 2015, the number of cases and deaths recorded by epidemiological week show an increase in comparison to the corresponding week in 2014.
Since the epidemic began in October 2010, Haiti has reported 744,698 cholera cases, of which 426,884 were hospitalized (57% cumulative hospitalization rate), and 8,826 deaths, with a national cumulative case fatality rate of 1.4%.
In the Dominican Republic, where the cholera outbreak is linked to the Haiti outbreak, 344 suspected cholera cases were registered, including 11 deaths so far in 2015.
Since the beginning of the epidemic in the Dominican Republic (November 2010) to date, a total of 32,764 suspected cholera cases, including 489 deaths, have been recorded.
The PAHO says cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. It has a short incubation period, ranging between two hours and five days.
The bacterium produces an enterotoxin that causes a copious, painless, watery diarrhea that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if treatment is not promptly given. Vomiting also occurs in most patients.
It affects both children and adults and can kill within hours. Person-to-person transmission is not common.
Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today