Three-year-old Dawesley came to HAS last week in critical condition. He had been experiencing severe vomiting and diarrhea, and, by the time he got to the hospital, he had fallen into a coma. HAS staff immediately administered oxygen and rehydration therapy, and in just two days Dawesley was well on the road to recovery.
Dawesley is the first confirmed case of cholera at HAS this year.
Most cholera cases in Haiti occur in the rainy summer months, especially June and July, as rainfall spreads the waterborne bacteria. Though Haiti has been experiencing drought conditions this year, the number of cholera cases registered throughout the country has recently increased.
Why is this? Because a drought actually fosters growth of cholera bacteria. The lack of rainfall leads to below-average river flows, air temperatures are higher than normal, and solar radiation is more intense from reduced cloud cover. The shallow rivers are warmed to a temperature optimal for cholera reproduction.
Once a heavy rain does fall (as has happened recently in the region we serve), the water mixes with the soil containing the Vibrio cholerae bacteria and “doses” the river with pathogens. Within a week of this rainfall, cholera bacteria have greatly multiplied and outbreaks are likely to occur. Dawesley started having symptoms of cholera about one week after a major storm.
Though cholera is extremely difficult to eradicate from the environment once it has become endemic to a place, prediction and prevention are achievable goals. Changing climate patterns pose a challenge, yet we can anticipate new trends based on these changes. For example, HAS concentrates preventive activities and education about cholera during the summer months, yet focuses these efforts even more heavily right after a rainstorm.
Prevention is key to reducing the incidence of cholera as much as possible in our area and throughout Haiti to keep people healthy and active; when those who cannot prevent the illness, like Dawesley, need fast, life-saving care, they can always find it at HAS
 Antarpreet Jutla,* Elizabeth Whitcombe, Nur Hasan, Bradd Haley, Ali Akanda, Anwar Huq, Munir Alam, R. Bradley Sack, and Rita Colwell. “Environmental Factors Influencing Epidemic Cholera.” Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2013 Sep 4; 89(3): 597–607. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3771306/