Peacekeepers were source of cholera

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The Independent US

A contingent of UN peacekeepers is the likely source of a cholera outbreak in Haiti that has killed at least 2,000 people, a French scientist said.

Epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux concluded that the cholera originated in a tributary of Haiti's Artibonite river, next to a UN base outside the town of Mirebalais. He was sent by the French government to assist Haitian health officials in determining the source of the outbreak, a French Foreign Ministry official said.

"No other hypothesis could be found to explain the outbreak of a cholera epidemic in this village... not affected by the earthquake earlier this year and located dozens of kilometres from the coast and (tent) camps," he wrote in a report that has not been publicly released. The report also calls for a further investigation of the outbreak, improved medical surveillance and sanitation procedures for UN peacekeeping troops.

Associated Press obtained a copy of the report from an official who released it on condition of anonymity. Mr Piarroux confirmed he was the author of the report but declined to discuss its findings. Copies were sent to UN and Haitian officials, the foreign ministry confirmed.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said in New York that there was still no conclusive evidence that its base was the source of the outbreak. He said theUN "remains very receptive to any scientific debate or investigation on this".