Haiti struggles through many things — earthquakes, hurricanes, and disease. Cholera, first and foremost, seemingly brought to the country by the very people trying to help it. The UN aid workers were pinpointed as the source of the outbreak.
There is much talk of vaccinating for cholera in Haiti. Many believed it wouldn’t work and to get the coverage needed for it to be effective was virtually impossible given the nature of poverty within the population. The reasons were numerous and voiced. In April of last year, vaccinations finally started, and it has seemed to be somewhat successful.
New research, published in Nature’s Scientific Reports, adds more wait to the usefulness of a vaccination campaign for cholera in Haiti.
“You don’t have to immunize everybody. Even if we could get an immunization rate in the range of 40 to 50 percent, it should be possible to control recurrent cholera outbreaks,” Dr Morris of the Emerging Pathogens Institute in Florida, said in a press release. “That should be enough to tilt things in your favor so that you can start getting control of the disease in these areas, to where, hopefully, rates of transmission will slow and numbers of cases will gradually die off.”
Haiti’s population was immunologically naïve to cholera after its long absence, so the potential for a severe cholera epidemic was high, and there was the fear that the outbreak would establish a long-term endemicity, marked by the traditional recurrent seasonal epidemics.
The paper ends by mentioning the obvious caveat of them all; “However, to achieve optimal protection of the population, vaccination would need to be combined with other measures that permanently improve water systems and/or otherwise decrease the risk of transmission from environmental sources.”