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New plague for Haiti.

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As if the devastating January earthquake was not enough, displaced Haitian families living in tent cities now face a new threat—cholera—a disease that kills within 24-48 hours of contact if not aggressively treated with rehydration therapy. As of Thursday, more than 4,000 Haitians had been treated for cholera—a disease not seen in Haiti in 50 years. Two hundred ninety people have died from the disease and another 174 cases are suspected in hospitalized victims.

The current outbreak is centered about an hour from the capital of Port-au-Prince. More than a million homeless people are living in camps in and around the capital. Public health officials fear that spread of the disease into these camps could create an epidemic, and that the disease could become endemic in Haiti—remaining for a very long time.

One aid worker in Haiti has observed, “There’s so much stagnant pools of water, it’s rainy season here at the moment, families are living on top of each other, with rubbish everywhere. It’s spread so fast, this disease.” Cholera spreads through contaminated water supplies, poor sanitation, and poor hygiene—a situation that is rampant in the vast, dirty, densely populated tent cities of refugees (Sky News online, October 28, 2010).

When Jesus was asked by His disciples about signs of the end of the age, He said that besides “earthquakes in various places,” there would be an obvious rise in pestilences or disease outbreaks (Matthew 24:7). These and other devastating events will be just the “beginning” of sorrows (v. 8). We need to pray fervently for ALL those made in God’s image around the globe, yet also realize that the tragic events we are witnessing with increasing frequency MUST come to pass before Jesus returns.