News of the WeekInfectious Diseases

Haiti's Outbreak Is Latest in Cholera's New Global Assault

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Science  05 Nov 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6005, pp. 738-739
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6005.738

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After a deadly surprise outbreak of cholera began in Haiti 2 weeks ago, angry Haitian protesters held peacekeepers from Nepal—a country where the disease is endemic—responsible for bringing Vibrio cholerae to their already ravaged country. But some scientists pointed out that although Haiti had never reported the disease before, V. cholerae is ubiquitous in aquatic environments; given the right circumstances, its numbers can swell dramatically and trigger an outbreak. On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rendered its verdict: DNA fingerprinting of the microbes from 13 patients had shown that it was most similar to strains from South Asia, according to a press release, suggesting that that's where the disease was imported from.