Media reports on Tuesday 11 October indicate that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is preparing to send one million doses of cholera vaccine to Haiti amid fears of a serious outbreak of the disease due to infrastructural damage caused by Hurricane Matthew.
Around 200 suspected cholera cases have been reported in Haiti since Hurricane Matthew hit last week, with 150 suspected cases in the Grande’Anse department and 50 in Sud department. The infrastructural damage caused by the hurricane has prompted fears of a cholera outbreak similar to that which hit the island in the wake of the 2010 earthquake, killing almost 10,000 people.
Due to the risk from cholera, those in Haiti, particularly in the southern departments, should practise good food hygiene such as drinking only bottled, boiled or chemically-treated water; eating food that has been thoroughly cooked; avoiding raw vegetables and fruits without a peel and washing hands frequently and thoroughly.
Symptoms of cholera include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, lethargy and dehydration. Travellers should immediately consult a physician upon presentation of any of these symptoms.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth office (FCO) issued updated travel advice on Tuesday 11 October, informing travellers that they now advise against all but essential travel to the Grand Anse and Sud departments. The change in travel advice is believed to be a response to major infrastructural damage in the departments caused by the passage of Hurricane Matthew. Both departments are reported to have a number of areas which have been cut off due to storm damage, without power and water supplies. There are further concerns over the possible spread of cholera in the region.
Those in Haiti are advised to minimise non-essential travel in the Grand Anse and Sud departments in the medium term and should monitor local media sources for further updates on the situation in the southern peninsula region. Any operationally-critical travel in the region should be subjected to a rigorous localised risk assessment and undertaken in coordination with local authorities and a trusted security provider.
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