Cholera Outbreak Strain in Haiti Identified

Laboratory testing reveals current outbreak most similar to cholera strains in South Asia

TUESDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- The Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population has received the results of laboratory testing demonstrating that the cholera strain tied to the current outbreak in Haiti, Vibrio cholerae serogroup O1, is most similar to cholera strains found in South Asia. The research findings were released as part of a collaboration between Haiti's National Public Health Laboratory and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Investigators performed pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) testing on 13 bacterial isolates recovered from patients with cholera in Haiti to compare DNA patterns to PFGE patterns of cholera strains from other regions of the world. The investigators found that these isolates were the same strain and similar to a cholera strain found in South Asia.

Precautionary measures are being employed to control the outbreak. These measures include treating ill individuals with oral rehydration solution, promoting good hygiene and sanitation, and providing access to safe water. While additional laboratory testing will be completed in the short term, including whole genome DNA sequencing, the results may not provide any further insight into the introduction of cholera into Haiti.

"Although these results indicate that the strain is non-Haitian, cholera strains may move between different areas due to global travel and trade," Haiti's Minister of Health, Alex Larsen, M.D., said in a statement. "Therefore, we will never know the exact origin of the strain that is causing the epidemic in Haiti. This strain was transmitted by contaminated food or water or an infected person."

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