Post-disaster disease myth diverted attention from cholera outbreak following Haiti earthquake

Published on January 9, 2013 at 7:21 AM · No Comments

"Few post-disaster myths have a stronger hold on our imaginations than the specter of a follow-on epidemic ... But we can all take a deep, healthy breath: It's not true," Jonathan Katz, a journalist stationed in Haiti, writes in a PopSci opinion piece. "But myths have their price. And nowhere has the price of this particular myth been higher than in Haiti," he continues. Noting the third anniversary of the 2010 earthquake that struck the nation, Katz writes, "No less a luminary than Bill Clinton, the U.N. Special Envoy for Haiti, warned in early 2010 that diarrheal disease sparked by squalid conditions could prove a 'second round of death.'" He continues, "In fact, there was a second catastrophic round of death in Haiti that year: an epidemic, no less. But that epidemic -- a virulent outbreak of El Tor cholera -- had nothing to do with the earthquake at all."

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