Vaccinating Half of Haiti’s Population Could Stem Cholera Epidemic: Report

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - January 17, 2013

Above: cholera treatment in Haiti (UN Photo/Marco Dormino)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Achieving just 46 percent vaccination coverage in Haiti could contain transmission of cholera in the country, according to a new report from University of Florida researchers.

Cholera, which first appeared in Haiti in 2010 following the earthquake, has killed thousands in Haiti, and has seen a resurgence due to a series of harsh storms at the end of 2012.

The report, published last week in Scientific Reports, was prepared by the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute’s Zindoga Mukandavire and J Glenn Morris, Jr, in collaboration with David Smith of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The group highlighted the importance of using mathematical models to target immunization campaigns.

“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,” Morris said in a 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.”

The concept is something called “herd immunity,” which proposes that by immunizing a significant portion of a given population, it can break the “chain of infection,” and do so without universal vaccination.

The researchers also said that they did not “point fingers at what triggered the outbreak,” although most signs point to United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal.

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