Swedish diplomat says Haiti cholera strain came from Nepal

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

STOCKHOLM - A Swedish diplomat claimed Wednesday that Haiti’s cholera outbreak originated in Nepal.

“Unfortunately that is the case. It has proved that the cholera came from Nepal,” Claes Hammar, Sweden’s ambassador to Haiti, told daily Svenska Dagbladet.

Hammar, who visited Haiti two weeks ago, said the information came from “a diplomatic source. It is 100 percent true. Tests were made and the source was traced to Nepal.”

On November 1, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said the cholera strain linked to the outbreak is “most similar” to cholera strains found in South Asia. However, it cautioned that more work was needed to determine the origin of the cholera strain in Haiti.

The Nepalese Army Tuesday refuted charges that its peacekeepers were responsible for the epidemic that has claimed more than 1,000 lives, a day after protests in Cap Haitien, Haiti’s second-largest city.

One person was killed and at least 12 people, including six Nepalese soldiers, were injured in clashes resulting from the protests, in which thousands of people participated.

“The UN has already issued a press release saying the Nepalese forces were not responsible for the cholera outbreak after conducting a series of tests,” Nepalese Army spokesman Ramindra Chettri said in Kathmandu.

The first outbreak of the disease, which is contracted through contaminated water and causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting, was reported in the lower Artibonite region, north of capital Port-au-Prince Oct 22.

On Tuesday, neighbouring Dominican Republic reported its first case of cholera - that of a migrant worker from Haiti.

According to Partners in Health, Haiti has not had a documented case of cholera since the 1960s. But conditions were ripe for an epidemic even before the Jan 12 earthquake because of an unsafe water supply system, which was further weakened over the years by a series of hurricanes, followed by floods and mudslides.

The earthquake killed close to 230,000 people and left more than 1.5 million homeless.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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