Dr. Adam Levine, a Brown University associate professor of emergency medicine and Rhode Island Hospital physician, recently discussed treating cholera patients in Haiti.
After Hurricane Matthew devastated the
area on Oct. 4, cholera cases began arriving at the local health facilities.
Haiti is a poor country, and transportation amid its hills is
difficult. Patients must walk down from the villages and then get a ride on a motorcycle
or other transportation to reach the cholera treatment unit.
Levine arrived in late October and began managing a
treatment unit for the International Medical Corps. The unit consists of two
tents behind the local health center in Les Anglais. Patients who require
intravenous (IV) fluids are treated in one tent; those who can take oral rehydration
products are in the other.
The doctor explained that proper hygiene is essential to preventing the
spread of cholera. It is highly contagious and usually spread by water or food contaminated by feces. The danger of the disease lies in the
severe diarrhea: a patient can die in 24 hours from dehydration. With an
antibiotic and rehydration, patients recover in a few days. Once the vomiting
and diarrhea end, the patient takes a chlorine shower and is released to go
"Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere -- and its health care system is underdeveloped as a result of that," Levine
said. "In Les Anglais, the health center is staffed by one doctor and a
few nurses. They have limited medical supplies and limited diagnostics and
treatment that they can provide. They do the best that they can with what they
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