When you look at the footage out of Haiti post-Hurricane Matthew, and the devastation in the country, one can be left heartbroken for this struggling people and wonder when they’ll get a break.

Cholera Victim–Pestel, January 2012–Photo by John Carroll MD
Cholera Victim–Pestel, January 2012–Photo by John Carroll MD

The official death toll from the Haitian government stands at near 400; however, estimates put the tally closer to 1,000 as of Monday morning.

The devastation, which includes a lack of potable water, has stoked fears of the spread of the bacterial, gastrointestinal and potentially life-threatening disease, cholera.

On the Outbreak News This Week Radio Show (recorded on Oct. 6), which airs in the Tampa Bay area, physician and Haitian Hearts founder, Dr. John Carroll, discussed his thoughts on the short and long term effects of Hurricane Matthew on Haiti and the situation with cholera, which has plagued the country for the past six years.

“There’s been an incredible amount of damage to the southwest peninsula. The damage is great and it’s going to take a long time to recover from this- days , weeks and maybe years actually”, Dr Carroll stated early in the interview based on assessments from the ground and info he was getting via text message.

“The short term effects of Hurricane Matthew will be access to these villages and to these cities in the southwest peninsula that have been hurt and isolated. People right now are without food and without water, and they been that way for a couple of days now”, he said.

Concerning the long term, Dr Carroll said, “It’s going to be trying to reestablish the roads, the bridges that have fallen. This was harvest time in Haiti right now, so a lot of the food has been destroyed that would have been harvested, and that can bring on famine”

According to a UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs update (computer translated), up to 80 percent of crops in Haiti have been lost in some areas.

Carroll continues: “And then standing water, which can bring on the mosquito borne diseases and the water borne diseases as well.”

On the topic of cholera, Dr Carroll said, “I would think that the number of cholera cases would actually spike and I think the scientists and the ones that follow cholera very closely would be telling us that after this horrendous Hurricane Matthew that cholera will spike up again so by the end of the year there should be thousands and thousands more cases.”

In a follow-up with Dr Carroll on Oct. 9, he emailed Outbreak News Today some information “from the ground” that was published on Crofs Blog. Here is an excerpt:

There is no clean water. Everyone is now drinking contaminated water, the infants, children, everyone.  The crops of millet, corn. legumes, sweet potatoes were destroyed.  The food they were able to protect from the storm was brought out and put in the sun to dry but quickly spoiled. There is no food. No electricity. No communication.

We also learned today from flyovers that this is the same situation for the entire area from Port Salut to Jeremie. No water, extreme hunger/no food, no shelter, and people dying from a lack of basic healthcare as no one can get to them by road. This is an absolutely shocking crisis and based on our contact with a whole host of actors here on the ground, it doesn’t seem like there is a plan to get food, water, and healthcare to these thousands of stranded people anytime soon. 

Read Dr. Carroll’s blog, Dispatches from Haiti, for a great “on-the-ground” look at the country.

For a comprehensive list of organizations you can give to, which will help the Haitian people, see the following Weather.com story

LISTEN to the full interview with Dr John Carroll on the podcast below:

The Outbreak News This Week Radio Show, the first and only radio program dedicated to infectious disease and health news and information, airs every Sunday at 8 pm ET in the Tampa Bay area on AM 1380 The Biz and online at http://1380thebiz.com/