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The “First” Case of Cholera in Haiti: Lessons for Global Health

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  • Division of Global Health Equity, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; Partners In Health, Boston, Massachusetts

Cholera is an acute watery diarrheal disease caused by infection with Vibrio cholerae. The disease has a high fatality rate when untreated and outbreaks of cholera have been increasing globally in the past decade, most recently in Haiti. We present the case of a 28-year-old Haitian male with a history of severe untreated mental health disorder that developed acute fatal watery diarrhea in mid-October 2010 in central Haiti after drinking from the local river. We believe he is the first or among the first cases of cholera in Haiti during the current epidemic. By reviewing his case, we extracted lessons for global health on the importance of mental health for overall health, the globalization of diseases in small communities, and the importance of a comprehensive approach to the health of communities when planning services in resource-poor settings.

Author Notes

*Address correspondence to Louise C. Ivers, 641 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail: livers@pih.org

Authors' addresses: Louise C. Ivers and David A. Walton, Division of Global Health Equity, Brigham and Women's Hospital; Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Partners In Health; Boston, MA, E-mails: livers@pih.org and dwalton@pih.org.

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