Haiti: study suggests UN force source of cholera strain that killed 5,500 people
Updated - Friday 15 July 2011
Evidence "strongly suggests" that a United Nations peacekeeping mission brought a cholera strain to Haiti that has killed thousands of people, a study  by a team of epidemiologists and physicians says.
The study is the strongest argument yet that newly-arrived Nepalese peacekeepers at a base near the town of Mirebalais brought with them the cholera, which killed more than 5,500 people and sickened more than 363,000 others since it was discovered in October 2010.
The new study argues it is important for scientists to determine the origin of cholera outbreaks and how they spread in order to eliminate "accidentally imported disease." Figuring out the source of a cholera epidemic would help health workers better treat and prevent cholera by minimizing the "distrust associated with the widespread suspicions of a cover-up of a deliberate importation of cholera."
The study comes as health workers in Haiti wrestle with a spike in the number of cholera cases brought on by several weeks of rainfall.
 Piarroux, R. [et al.] (2011). Understanding the cholera epidemic, Haiti. Emerging infectious diseases ; vol. 17, no. 7 ; p. 1161-1167. DOI:10.3201/eid1707.110059
Related news:Haiti: UN panel reports on source of cholera outbreak, E-Source, 23 May 2011
Source: Jonathan M. Katz, AP, 29 Jun 2011
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