No Big Outbreaks of Disease in Haiti, Surveys Find

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Two new surveillance systems set up in Haiti after January's monster earthquake showed no major outbreaks of disease, and might form the basis of one long-term improvement for the Caribbean nation's health, researchers reported on Thursday.

Establishing the networks was one triumph for public health experts and also showed the quick response of aid agencies may have helped prevent an even worse health disaster, the Haitian and U.S. experts said.

"The earthquake was a terrible disaster. But I really think it was an opportunity that has given them a chance to rebuild parts of their country, especially in the health sector," Erin Sauber-Schatz of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a telephone interview.

Information from the systems helped Haitian health officials, aid agencies and others make informed decisions about where medical care was the most needed, Sauber-Schatz said.

The January 12 quake killed 230,000 people, Haitian officials said in the report, injured 300,000 and forced 1.5 million out of their homes.

"At the time, Haiti had no system capable of providing timely surveillance on a wide range of health conditions," CDC and Haitian health officials wrote in their report in the agency's weekly report on death and illness.

Haiti's Ministry of Public Health and Population, the Pan-American Health Organization, CDC, and other agencies set up the National Sentinel Site Surveillance System, using clinics that were part of the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or PEPFAR.

A second network monitored displaced people.

"Nationally, the three most frequently reported specified conditions were acute respiratory infection, suspected malaria, and fever of unknown cause," the researchers wrote. "Injuries accounted for 12 percent of reported conditions. No epidemics or disease clusters were detected."