Keeping Tabs on Cholera in Haiti

| Mon Oct. 25, 2010 1:18 PM EDT

"It seems that a Haitian killed a Dominican, and now the Dominicans sent cholera here to kill the population," one of my Haitian friends just texted me. That hypothesis was advanced by one of his employees, and that's the kind of superstition and misunderstanding about sanitation that could quickly lead to a lot more deaths.

Latest reports of the recent cholera outbreak in Haiti are that 259 have died and about 3,000 have been hospitalized, with at least five confirmed cases in Port-au-Prince. The good news is that the cases didn't originate in the overpopulated capital, but traveled there from the central rural regions where the outbreak originated. The bad news is that with no restrictions on travel between those areas and no potable water in many of the devastatingly squalid displacement camps where more than a million people have been living post-quake, it's a short step to an epidemic. The Haitian health ministry reports that the infection rate is slowing but has likely not yet reached its peak.

You can keep tabs on the outbreak—and counter misinformation—on Twitter. @Haitifeed aggregates news about the country, much of it now cholera-related; the Miami Herald's Jacqueline Charles and freelancers Jacob Kushner and Ansel Herz are on the ground reporting about the situation. Partners in Health, an organization that's long been providing medical care in Haiti, is posting updates on its website, which is also a great place to donate if you want to help.