The government said Tuesday that a 3-year-old living in a camp near Cite Soleil, who had not left the vicinity of Port-au-Prince, tested positive for cholera. There are dozens of other suspected cases across the city, but numbers vary between government officials and organizations. It could also be days before the extent of the outbreak is known, as there is a lag in results from the testing laboratory.
Across the country, more than 580 people have died and over 9,000 cases are suspected in 10 regions. Officials say they worry that flooding provoked by Hurricane Tomas over the weekend could speed the spread of the disease.
Health workers are bracing to meet what they expect will be a sharp demand for help. "We expect transmission to be extensive, and we have to be prepared for it, there's no question," Jon Andrus, deputy director for the Pan-American Health Organization, said Tuesday. "We have to prepare for a large upsurge in numbers of cases and be prepared with supplies and human resources and everything that goes into a rapid response."
Groups have been working across the capital to contain cholera, which is spread through contaminated water and food, teaching residents to employ preventive measures, especially washing hands and thoroughly cooking food. They are also setting up clinics.