CPS maintains vigilance to Persons who plan to travel to Haiti

The Collective Preventive Services (CPS) which is part of the Ministry of Public Health, would like to inform the community that the Ministry continues to monitor the situation in Haiti very closely with the assistance of the family physicians and its weekly syndromic surveillance system. 

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Family physicians are on alert to report any symptoms of cholera especially of persons who have traveled to Haiti within the seven days of onset.

Persons who plan to visit Haiti are advised to delay their travel plans.

There have been more than 900 deaths and over 12,000 persons are ill or have been hospitalized.

Cholera can be found in Artibonite, Centre, Nord-Ouest, Nord and Ouest, and Port-au-Prince. The outbreak is expected to spread to other departments of the country. In response, international health experts have been placed in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic to deal with the situation.

Cholera is a bacterial infection spread through contaminated water. It causes severe diarrhea and vomiting that can lead to dehydration and death within hours.

About 75 per cent of people infected with cholera do not develop any symptoms, although the bacteria are present in their feces for seven to 14 days after infection and are shed back into the environment, potentially infecting other people.

Cholera is transmitted through fecal contamination of water and food. In places where there is infrastructure damage, the lack of safe drinking water and poor sanitation and hygiene can increase the risk of cholera, as well as numerous other diarrhea diseases.

Cholera is easily treatable, and if patients are given oral re-hydration salts promptly to replace lost fluids, and they can nearly always be cured.

In a small percentage of people, cholera can cause very severe dehydration potentially leading to death. To minimize the number of people infected, frequent hand washing, personal hygiene, safe water use and food preparation are a necessity.

By taking a few basic precautions, cholera as well as most other food and water-borne diseases can easily be prevented. The main rule is, always be aware of the quality of what you eat and drink when you are traveling to Haiti, however the CPS recommends delaying travel to Haiti at this point in time.