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Haiti's Cholera Epidemic May Reach Port-au-Prince

COCONUT CREEK (CBS4) - Cholera has claimed the lives of at least 200 people in the rural valley of central Haiti, and authorities fear it is spreading towards the capital where thousands live in tent cities with poor sanitation.

Cholera bacterium thrives in poor sanitary conditions, making Haiti ripe for the spread of the deadly disease.

The issue hits home for one North Miami Beach man, that is where a lot of Schiller Sanon-Jules relatives live.

He said he is extremely worried about his loved ones in his homeland.

"We are really concerned about the situation there and their well being as well," Sanon-Jules said. He calls Haiti every day and said he's surprised by the lack of information there.

"They have not heard anything," he said. "I mean people don't tell them what's going on. We have more information then they do in Haiti and its happening to them and nobody's telling them, nobody's coming around nobody's telling them what the prevention measures are, how to prevent it how to treat it if they in fact get cholera."

But one South Florida Charity is working in Haiti to make sure fresh water, medicine and more supplies are getting into the right hands.

Coconut Creek charity Food For The Poor has been working in the Caribbean nation for years providing food, housing and solution-based training and life skills, but since the devastating earthquake earlier this year it has stepped to the plate in other ways, building dozens of permanent houses and delivering donations from the United States.

As of Sunday the organization said it will have installed 10 water filtration units that create at least 100,000 gallons of fresh water.
"Many times in Haiti, animals and people often share the same water source," said Kathy Skipper, spokeswoman for Food For The Poor. "So it helps prevent further cholera outbreaks, and for those people who already have cholera, keeping them hydrated is essential to helping them recover from cholera."

Cholera is an acute diarrheal illness is caused by a bacterium that attacks the intestine, according to MedicineNet.com. The bacterium that causes the disease is transmitted in contaminated water, but also lives in brackish water and coastal waters.

If not treated its victim can become dehydrated, go into shock and die.

According to the MedicineNet.com cholera has been virtually eliminated in the United States with the advent of modern sewage and water treatment systems, but not so in economically and earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

About 1 million people live in the area targeted by Food For The Poor.
The charity said that they already know the water filtration systems work, as no cholera cases have been reported in areas where the charity already had installed them.

"The situation in Haiti is serious," said Robin Mahfood, Food For The Poor's President/CEO. "The people of Haiti need help, and they needed it yesterday … we have shipped supplies, and we will send more but these people need everybody's help."

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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