Potential for a cholera explosion in Haiti

Though it is perhaps no surprise that health officials today confirmed cholera has spread into the Haitian capital city of Port-au-Prince, it is still stunning to consider the potential harm ahead.

As the AP, NPR, the Guardian and many other news organizations report on this ominous development, it’s important to recognize that the difference between Haiti’s cholera outbreak so far and what could happen in Port-au-Prince is like the difference between a minor flash flood and a tsunami.

Millions of people already lived in the urban slums of Port-au-Prince and now many more live in tents or other temporary shelters amid some fairly unsanitary conditions. The damage and disrupted living conditions have now been greatly compounded by the flooding caused by Hurricane Tomas.

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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.