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PLOS - Spatio-Temporal Dynamics of Cholera during the First Year of the Epidemic in Haiti

In this paper, Dr. Jean Gaudart, et al. describe and analyze the spatio-temporal dynamics and underlying factors associated with the first year of the 2010 cholera epidemic in Haiti. Environmental factors, such as rivers and rice fields, appeared to play a role in disease dynamics exclusively during the beginning of the epidemic, but varied from place to place as time passed, suggesting the need for rapid and exhaustive case tracking.

http://www.plosntds.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pntd.0002145

Abstract

Background

In October 2010, cholera importation in Haiti triggered an epidemic that rapidly proved to be the world's largest epidemic of the seventh cholera pandemic. To establish effective control and elimination policies, strategies rely on the analysis of cholera dynamics. In this report, we describe the spatio-temporal dynamics of cholera and the associated environmental factors.

Methodology/Principal findings

Cholera-associated morbidity and mortality data were prospectively collected at the commune level according to the World Health Organization standard definition. Attack and mortality rates were estimated and mapped to assess epidemic clusters and trends. The relationships between environmental factors were assessed at the commune level using multivariate analysis. The global attack and mortality rates were 488.9 cases/10,000 inhabitants and 6.24 deaths/10,000 inhabitants, respectively. Attack rates displayed a significantly high level of spatial heterogeneity (varying from 64.7 to 3070.9 per 10,000 inhabitants), thereby suggesting disparate outbreak processes. The epidemic course exhibited two principal outbreaks. The first outbreak (October 16, 2010–January 30, 2011) displayed a centrifugal spread of a damping wave that suddenly emerged from Mirebalais. The second outbreak began at the end of May 2011, concomitant with the onset of the rainy season, and displayed a highly fragmented epidemic pattern. Environmental factors (river and rice fields: p<0.003) played a role in disease dynamics exclusively during the early phases of the epidemic.

Conclusion

Our findings demonstrate that the epidemic is still evolving, with a changing transmission pattern as time passes. Such an evolution could have hardly been anticipated, especially in a country struck by cholera for the first time. These results argue for the need for control measures involving intense efforts in rapid and exhaustive case tracking.

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