Fears cholera could arrive in North Texas from Haiti

Print
Email
|

by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on November 12, 2010 at 7:20 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 12 at 7:23 PM

The Dallas County Health Department is closely monitoring the situation in Haiti.

The concern is cholera - so far 800 people have died. More than 11,000 have the disease. That number is expected to grow to 200,000.

That could have a health impact in North Texas. Swine flu was first detected in North Texas, after a young man took a flight here from San Diego.

Cholera is also just a plane flight away, according to health authorities.

A News 8 crew in Haiti recently videotaped, as Haitians washed their clothes, bathed, and drank from the same dirty river water.

That is how cholera starts.

"We are still in the earthquake relief mode, in a sense. You have to now switch and deal with another emergency on top of that," said one North Texas missionary, as he traveled to rural Haiti.

No one knows what Haiti is up against better than Dr. Steven Harris, the new Dallas County Health Authority. Prior to this job, he was the CDC's health director in Haiti.

"It was probably our biggest concern, water-borne kind of illness," he said.

Harris helped guide the first efforts to stop disease, after the January earthquake.

He's concerned, too, that cholera concerns in Haiti could reach North Texas. He points out that D/FW airport is an international port.

 

"There's a lot of travel from Haiti to this country. And there's certainly some concern that people carrying cholera could travel to the United States and introduce it here," said Harris.

He says the only way to prevent that is to be vigilant for sick Haitians traveling to North Texas.

Cholera is spread through bad hygiene, not through the air, like flu.

D/FW International Airport confirms the CDC officer at the airport is on the look-out for potential cholera cases coming from Haiti.

But, detecting this disease would likely also take an alert flight attendant, who sees a passenger using the restroom too many times in flight.

E-mail:jstames@wfaa.com

Print
Email
|