Aid Group Helps Contain Haiti Cholera Outbreak

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Ten months after experiencing a devastating earthquake, Haiti is facing a new horror. Health officials are scrambling to keep a cholera outbreak from spreading into the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

More than one million earthquake survivors remain crammed into refugee camps, but they're getting some help from Operation Blessing International, the Virginia Beach, Va., based charity aid organization.

Stay with CBNNews.com for more coverage of Operation Blessing International efforts in Haiti.  Click here to see how you can help Haiti recover.

Haitian President Rene Preval announced the cholera outbreak telling the people his government will do what it can to limit the impact of the disease, but their life is in their hands.

Health officials have traced the source of the outbreak to a small river in Babou La Port, located about 60 miles from the capital.

"There are no tent camps in that area," said Bill Horan, president of the charity group. "It is a rural area. Most of the people raise rice. They are farmers. But the problem is, one of their small rivers got contaminated."

Operation Blessing International is working with the Partners in Health organization to help contain the outbreak. David Darg, the charity group's international relief director, arrived at Haiti's Saint Marc Hospital to find one of many desperate scenes -- an overcrowded hospital with family's continuing to bring in their sick loved ones.

"They haven't had anything to drink in 24 hours, because they're so worried about getting sick...which is smart," Darg said. "I wouldn't be drinking either."

Operation Blessing has installed three water water purification systems in the area. Each system can supply 10,000 gallons of clean drinking water each day. It's what the locals say is an answer to prayer.

Cholera is a bacterial infection that spreads through contaminated water and food. It can cause rapid dehydration, kidney failure and even heart failure. So far, it has killed at least 250 people and has sickened more than 3,000.

"There is a lot of places that still don't have water," said Patricia Pitts of Project Medishare. "And it would be devastating if it started to hit the camps."

Operation Blessing is also transporting water to people who are isolated. Roads flooded when the government opened irrigation gates. A local pastor helped the OB team reach 60 families with life-saving jerrycans. The cans purify filthy water, so that it is drinkable.

Other aid groups in Haiti are also providing soap and water, purification tablets and are also teaching people about the importance of cleanliness -- especially washing their hands.

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