Haiti at risk for widespread malaria, CDC warns

The Miami HeraldMarch 4, 2010 

The first feared cases of malaria have come to Haiti, weeks before the start of its next rainy season in May, and health officials are concerned that the deadly disease could become widespread.

Eleven cases confirmed among emergency personnel and Haitian residents have officials worried for them and for the more than 500,000 Haitians made homeless by the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck on Jan. 12.

"Displaced persons living outdoors or in temporary shelters and thousands of emergency responders in Haiti are at substantial risk for malaria," said a report Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Carried by mosquitoes, the P.falciparum strain of malaria "causes the most severe disease and highest mortality, and is the predominant species in Haiti," the CDC says.

Each year, Haiti has 30,000 confirmed cases of malaria, and officials believe the actual number is closer to 200,000.

Haiti's next rainy season doesn't start until May. But heavy rains came early in the southeastern city of Les Cayes on Feb. 28, creating floods that killed eight people.

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