Good Health for Haiti

Vaccines are a tried and true mechanism for controlling disease, but they are not always a magic bullet. Researchers who study the spread of cholera in Haiti recently modeled what would happen if 150,000 vaccines were administered in Port-au-Prince. They concluded “the benefits would have been negligible.” Liz Borkowski writes, “this intervention’s small effectiveness is due partly to the slow pace at which full immunity builds up and to the likelihood that many vaccine recipients would’ve already built up natural immunity.” A better way to control a water-borne disease like cholera is to nip it in the bud, as John Snow did in 1858. In Haiti, this means providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene education. Mike the Mad Biologist clarifies, “The simple reason we don’t have shigellosis or cholera outbreaks in the U.S. is that we don’t have to drink our own shit.” He concludes, “Like I said, let’s build some sewers.”

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