According to the Miami Herald:
A Southwest Florida woman who visited family in the disease-stricken Artibonite Valley of Haiti and a Haitian construction worker who lives in the eastern Dominican Republic but recently spent two weeks in Port-au-Prince became the first people to import deadly cholera.
The spread is worrying public health specialists in several countries who fear the illness could spread internationally.
The acute intestinal infection first surfaced in Haiti four weeks ago and has killed 1,110 people and hospitalized 18,382 since.
The Collier County woman does not work in a job that puts her in close contact with the public, so the chance that she might pass on the disease is small, Florida health officials said. Several more cases are under investigation in other counties, said Dr. Thomas Torok, a cholera expert in the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Epidemiology.
Yesterday, November 17, the Pan American Health Organization released its most recent Situation Report. Violence in Haiti – related to suspicions cholera was introduced by UN peacekeeping troops — is complicating efforts to contain the disease. According to PAHO:
Civil unrest since November 15 has slowed several activities of the response to the outbreak. In the northern city of Cap Haitian prevention and treatment supplies are were not delivered in last three days. WHO/PAHO cholera training was postponed, as well as an Oxfam initiative to chlorinate water for 300,000 people. A nearby World Food Programme (WFP) warehouse was looted and burned. In Hinche, six MINUSTAH personnel and a number of bystanders were injured, according to the MINUSTAH.
The full Situation Report and other updates are available via a new PAHO blog focusing on health conditions and operations in Haiti: http://new.paho.org/blogs/haiti/index.php?lang=en
As we have previously discussed at HLSWatch, catastrophes – especially in contrast to disasters – are almost always the result of a cascade of events over time. It is the cumulative affect of the cascade, especially on human expectations, that permanently interrupts the status quo ante and results in a “new normal.”