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Keywords:

  • Cholera;
  • disease transmission;
  • epidemics;
  • epidemiology;
  • Haiti;
  • infectious;
  • Vibrio cholerae

Clin Microbiol Infect 2012; 18: E158–E163

Abstract

Cholera appeared in Haiti in October 2010 for the first time in recorded history. The causative agent was quickly identified by the Haitian National Public Health Laboratory and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as Vibrio cholerae serogroup O1, serotype Ogawa, biotype El Tor. Since then, >500 000 government-acknowledged cholera cases and >7000 deaths have occurred, the largest cholera epidemic in the world, with the real death toll probably much higher. Questions of origin have been widely debated with some attributing the onset of the epidemic to climatic factors and others to human transmission. None of the evidence on origin supports climatic factors. Instead, recent epidemiological and molecular-genetic evidence point to the United Nations peacekeeping troops from Nepal as the source of cholera to Haiti, following their troop rotation in early October 2010. Such findings have important policy implications for shaping future international relief efforts.