Washington, DC -- As the death toll from the cholera epidemic in Haiti continues to rise and thousands are sickened, Paul Roepe, PhD, co-director of the Center for Infectious Disease at Georgetown University Medical Center says the situation there could worsen before it gets better.
Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by ingesting contaminated food or water. Watery diarrhea and vomiting precede dehydration and death. The World Health Organization says up to 80 percent of cholera cases can be successfully treated, but prompt treatment is critical.
Roepe says it does not appear that the cholera outbreak in Haiti is leveling off and that the outbreaks could last for several more weeks at a minimum.
“In Haiti, the cases of cholera are very likely being under-reported since earlier symptoms can be vague, less specific,” Roepe says. “Cholera deaths may also be under reported.”
Roepe says factors such as water sanitation, refugee crowding, and the speed with which new cases are identified and treated distinguish the cholera outbreak in Haiti from other outbreaks.
Roepe is available for press interviews. Please contact Karen Mallet at 215-514-9751 to arrange an appointment.
About Georgetown University Medical Center
Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis -- or "care of the whole person." The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing and Health Studies, both nationally ranked, the world-renowned Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization (BGRO). In fiscal year 2009-2010, GUMC accounted for 79 percent of Georgetown University's extramural research funding.