More Cholera Cases and Deaths Expected in Haiti

Clean water, vaccinations, better antibiotic distribution could reduce cholera cases and deaths

WEDNESDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- Mathematical modeling estimates that more cases of cholera than expected will occur in the coming months in Haiti, but many could be averted by the provision of clean water, vaccinations, and increased antibiotic distribution, according to a study published online March 16 in The Lancet.

Jason R. Andrews, M.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and Sanjay Basu, M.D., from the University of California San Francisco, used a mathematical model of the Haiti cholera epidemic to provide projections of future morbidity and mortality, and to estimate the effectiveness of proposed interventions. Based on existing models, new models of cholera transmission were fitted to incidence data for each province from Oct. 31, 2010, to Jan. 24, 2011.

The investigators project 779,000 cases of cholera and 11,100 deaths in Haiti in the period between March 1 and Nov. 30, 2011, based on the dynamic model. An estimated 105,000 cases and 1,500 deaths could be prevented by reducing the consumption of contaminated water by 1 percent per week. An estimated 63,000 cases and 900 deaths could be averted by vaccinating 10 percent of the population from March 1. Use of antibiotics for all patients with severe dehydration and half of patients with moderate dehydration could avert 9,000 cases and 1,300 deaths.

"A decline in cholera prevalence in early 2011 is part of the natural course of the epidemic, and should not be interpreted as indicative of successful intervention. Substantially more cases of cholera are expected than official estimates used for resource allocation," the authors write.

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