Published By Xinhua, ChinaDaily.com
UNITED NATIONS, April 2 (Xinhua) — The United Nations is in the midst of studying new claims made about the 2010 -2011 cholera outbreak in Haiti, a process that will take time, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters here on Monday.
The UN “received claims related to cholera in Haiti and is studying the claims,” Nesirky said at a daily news briefing.
The spokesman made his statement in response to a reporter’s question about a recent New York Times article, which stated that evidence strongly indicates that the cholera originated with UN peacekeepers stationed in Haiti.
“This was a highly complex matter which will require thorough consideration,” said Nesirky. “Given the unique nature of the claim, this will take some time, which is not unusual.”
Cholera appeared in Haiti in October 2010, months after an earthquake crippled the island nation. The epidemic spread and as of January 2012 has killed more than 7,000 people in Haiti and left nearly 500,000 more sick. The disease has also spread to the neighboring Dominican Republic.
Nesirky recalled that in January 2011, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had appointed a panel of independent scientific experts to investigate the cause of the cholera outbreak, but the panel said that they could not conclusively determine how the cholera was introduced in the island country.
Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. It produces an enterotoxin that causes a copious, painless, watery diarrhoea that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if treatment is not promptly given. Vomiting also occurs in most patients.