Haiti cholera outbreak kills 132 in 2014

Haiti's cholera epidemic has killed 132 people and may have infected nearly 15,000 others so far this year, a UN agency report said Wednesday.

The Caribbean country's started in 2010 and "an unacceptable number of people have been affected, with nearly 712,330 suspected cases and an estimated 8,655 deaths," the report by the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, citing Haiti's public health ministry.

In 2014, there have been a suspected 14,869 cases and 132 deaths recorded, the report said.

Aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres said there was a lack of beds for patients to recover.

"More than 2,000 people presenting symptoms of cholera needed emergency hospitalization since mid-October in Port-au-Prince," MSF said.

"A majority of the Haitian population remain exposed to cholera due to lack of access to clean water and latrines, the treatment capacity of the sick is still inadequate," MSF said.

OCHA has seen a "very significant increase" in the incidence in cholera in the metropolitan areas of Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas since late September, partly due to strong rains.

"Patients come to us in critical condition as there is no system in place to provide urgent care, despite the existence of a national plan for the elimination of cholera, said Oliver Schulz, head of MSF in Haiti.

International organizations providing cholera treatment have called for extra support to fight cholera and warn an early withdrawal of their services could jeopardize the gains made in containing the outbreak.

Haiti's health system still can't meet the needs of cholera patients, MSF said.

A 2011 study published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention blamed UN peacekeepers from Nepal for reintroducing to Haiti in 2010, when they came to aid the country after its devastating earthquake.

The disease had been gone from Haiti for 150 years.

The UN has never admitted responsibility for the outbreak, saying it's impossible to formally determine the cause of the disease.

© 2014 AFP

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