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Honduras: U.S. Doctors Pitch In

Medical facilities in Honduras have been overwhelmed by the devastation of hurricane Mitch. Now they have been joined in the battle against time and disease by a special U.S. medical team. CBS News Correspondent John Roberts reports.

Just after dawn, the Northwest Medical Team from Oregon loaded up and shiped out.

They're a group of volunteers who'll spend the next three weeks traveling torturous roads delivering critical care to thousands of people displaced by hurricane Mitch.

Wednesday, they visited a shelter in Choluteca, a community hard hit near the Pacific coast. Within minutes they set up a makeshift clinic.

The medical team's leader is Dr. Patrick Huff who is on his 14th relief mission.

"My guess is they could lose four times as many people from infectious diseases that will follow than they did in the primary disaster," says Huff.

Diseases like

cholera, hepatitis, malaria and engue, borne by contaminated water, mosquitoes and people living so close together for so long are all potential threats.

It's been two weeks since these people have seen running water and sanitation. Many of them have been bathing in the river health officials say is contaminated with bacteria and toxic chemicals. They may be living like this for months to come.

There is not yet an epidemic, but there are troubling signs. Dr. Huff hopes his team can save lives.

"We're really privileged to help them. We're going to bring a lot of smiles to their families by nightfall," says Huff.

In a country so in need, that is no small task for this dedicated group.

Reeported By John Roberts

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