Haiti has reported 1,897 cholera cases through January, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Image/Dr John Carroll
Image/Dr John Carroll

28 deaths were reported during this period.

Since the cholera outbreak began in October 2010, months after the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, 797,691 cholera cases have been reported in Haiti, including 9,439 deaths.

During the last week of January, the departments with the highest reported cases in descending order are: Artibonite, Centre, Nord, Nord- Ouest, and Ouest (which includes Portau-Prince).

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.

Among people who develop symptoms, about 80-90% of episodes are of mild or moderate severity and are difficult to distinguish clinically from other types of acute diarrhea. Less than 20% of ill persons develop acute watery diarrhea with moderate or severe dehydration.