UN peacekeepers brought cholera to Haiti: study
UN peacekeepers from Nepal brought the strain of cholera to Haiti responsible for an epidemic that has killed 5,500 people, according to a study published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study is the first to establish a direct link between the arrival of the Nepalese UN battalion near the small town of Mirebalais and the cholera epidemic that erupted in mid-October 2010.
On Thursday in New York, UN acting deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said the agency was "aware of the report and as with other prior reports, we will study its findings diligently."
The research, led by a group of French doctors, appeared in the CDC's July issue of "Emerging Infectious Diseases."
The cholera outbreak's long-suspected connection to the Nepalese troops provoked bloody anti-UN riots in the country in November that led to two deaths.
Cholera is rare in Haiti -- last year's outbreak was the first in more than a century -- and came as a surprise to country health officials.
According to the study, sewage from the UN camp poured into the Meille River, which greatly accelerated the spread of the disease. The Meille, in turn, flowed into Haiti's longest and most important river, the Artibonite.
A UN report written by four international experts and released in May said the source of the epidemic was "debatable" but that the United Nations "worldwide" must change the way it handles peacekeepers' health.
Since the outbreak began, Haiti's Ministry of Health has recorded 5,506 deaths and 363,117 diagnosed cholera cases.