14 Nov 2010

UN fears cholera epidemic may run out of control

7:53 am on 14 November 2010

The United Nations has appealed for $US164 million to tackle an outbreak of cholera in Haiti which has claimed more than 700 lives.

Aid agencies are battling to contain cholera in the capital, Port-au-Prince, amid fears it will spread through camps housing 1.1 million earthquake survivors.

The BBC reports that the United Nations is worried that, without more help, the epidemic may run out of control.

A UN spokeswoman says the disease has so far infected at least 11,125 people in five of Haiti's 10 districts, and the death toll stands at 724.

The head of mission for Medecins Sans Frontieres in Haiti says hospitals in Port-au-Prince are overflowing and patients may have to be treated in the streets.

The World Health Organisation said on Friday that the fatality rate, at 6.5% of cases, is unusually high.

The organisation does not expect the epidemic to end soon, citing projections of 200,000 cases over the next 12 months.