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Death toll from Haiti cholera outbreak rises above 900

Less than a month after a cholera outbreak erupted in Haiti, the infection has claimed 917 lives, AFP reported.

Haiti has long struggled to overcome political strife and poverty, but this year has been particularly hard on its citizens. In January, a massive earthquake killed an estimated 230,000 people, left 1.3 million displaced and flattened much of the capital. A busy hurricane season caused rivers to burst their banks and flood tent cities filled with homeless Haitians. Now the cholera outbreak has sickened more than 14,000 people, Reuters reported, and a new wave of infections is swamping understaffed and ill-prepared clinics.

Cholera is an illness that is contracted when a person drinks water or eats food that is contaminated by the cholera bacterium. Symptoms include watery diarrhea and vomiting, which can cause rapid loss of body fluids and lead to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"While cholera and cholera-like symptoms can present very quickly and become life-threatening, unnecessary deaths can easily be averted with swift access to properly equipped and staffed facilities in close proximity to outbreak areas," Kate Alberti, an epidemiologist with Epicentre, said.

The United Nations forecasts up to 200,000 Haitians could contract cholera as the outbreak spreads, and is asking for $164 million in aid to fight the epidemic. According to The Associated Press, most Haitians currently do not have access to clean water or reliable sanitation.

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