Months after a devastating earthquake, Haiti is now dealing with a quickly-spreading disease that’s already killed hundreds of people and sickened thousands more.
Cholera is the most agonizing type of diarrhea, and if not treated fast enough, it can be deadly.
So far, about 250 people in Haiti have died from it. Now, a doctor from Squirrel Hill is playing a major role in treating the patients.
Dr. Ian Rawson runs the Albert Scweitzer Hospital in Haiti that was founded by his parents. He first noticed the outbreak about a week ago.
“We started to see patients on Saturday,” said Dr. Rawson. “We didn’t know what we were seeing. It was patients with diarrhea, but there were very few. Then, Tuesday and Wednesday, the patients continued to grow.”
It turns out that the cholera first broke out among men who were working in some rice fields and drank from a nearby river. Now, it appears the disease is spreading.
“We’re starting to see some patients who are just from this area, before they weren’t,” said Dr. Rawson. “So now, we don’t know how it’s spreading from one geographic area to another.”
Rawson’s wife, Lucy, has just returned home from the hospital. She says the Haitians have learned how to cope.
“It’s a very agonizing disease. Apparently, they are arriving in pain; although, patients rarely complain. You don’t hear them screaming and crying,” said Lucy. “They’re really beautiful people. It’s part of their life and they’ll go on with their life.”
The treatment is simple. Cholera victims need to be hydrated. However, the problem is that many Haitians don’t get to the overcrowded hospitals until it’s too late.