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Cholera surveillance during the Haiti epidemic--the first 2 years.

BACKGROUND: In October 2010, nearly 10 months after a devastating earthquake, Haiti was stricken by epidemic cholera. Within days after detection, the Ministry of Public Health and Population established a National Cholera Surveillance System (NCSS).

METHODS: The NCSS used a modified World Health Organization case definition for cholera that included acute watery diarrhea, with or without vomiting, in persons of all ages residing in an area in which at least one case of Vibrio cholerae O1 infection had been confirmed by culture.

RESULTS: Within 29 days after the first report, cases of V. cholerae O1 (serotype Ogawa, biotype El Tor) were confirmed in all 10 administrative departments (similar to states or provinces) in Haiti. Through October 20, 2012, the public health ministry reported 604,634 cases of infection, 329,697 hospitalizations, and 7436 deaths from cholera and isolated V. cholerae O1 from 1675 of 2703 stool specimens tested (62.0%). The cumulative attack rate was 5.1% at the end of the first year and 6.1% at the end of the second year. The cumulative case fatality rate consistently trended downward, reaching 1.2% at the close of year 2, with departmental cumulative rates ranging from 0.6% to 4.6% (median, 1.4%). Within 3 months after the start of the epidemic, the rolling 14-day case fatality rate was 1.0% and remained at or below this level with few, brief exceptions. Overall, the cholera epidemic in Haiti accounted for 57% of all cholera cases and 53% of all cholera deaths reported to the World Health Organization in 2010 and 58% of all cholera cases and 37% of all cholera deaths in 2011.

CONCLUSIONS: A review of NCSS data shows that during the first 2 years of the cholera epidemic in Haiti, the cumulative attack rate was 6.1%, with cases reported in all 10 departments. Within 3 months after the first case was reported, there was a downward trend in mortality, with a 14-day case fatality rate of 1.0% or less in most areas.

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