October 29th, 2010
11:31 AM ET


By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

The tragic story of 22-year-old Saint Helene and her 15-month old daughter Cherie began like many here in Haiti. About two weeks ago, Saint Helene bought a bus ticket to Artibonite, a city about an hour north of Port Au Prince. Visiting with friends there last week, they had likely heard about the cholera outbreak that was unfolding in front of them. The good news: When Saint Helene and Cherie headed back to Port-au-Prince a few days later, they felt perfectly fine. Asymptomatic, as we say in the medical world. What Saint Helene or Cherie could not have known at that time is they were likely carrying the cholera bacteria back to the nation’s capital.

What happened next is not entirely clear. Saint Helene told us she was walking in Port-au-Prince, when she became suddenly ill. Within a couple hours, she was terribly dehydrated from diarrhea, and began to vomit. A good Samaritan brought mother and her young child to the closest hospital, where Saint Helene was taken to a back, somewhat isolated area and began treatment for cholera. She had an IV placed, and was given salts to replace the lost electrolytes. All of this happened within a few hours, relatively speedy, especially given the logistical challenges of Haiti.

And, with that - Saint Helene and Cherie illustrated several important lessons about cholera. Cherie, who was not sick, reminded us the vast majority of patients with the cholera bacteria actually don’t have any illness at all. Also, it was only several days after an exposure before Saint Helene began to feel ill. She was now getting simple, yet typically very effective treatment.

Health officials are very focused on people like Saint Helene and Cherie because of these reasons. There are many healthy people in Haiti who could be carrying the bacteria in their bodies, excreting it, and in the process unwittingly exposing countless others to the infection. It is possible that several more outbreaks could occur in areas all over the country over the next few weeks.

Saint Helene and Cherie taught us something else – just how deadly and heartbreaking this infection can be. Despite the efforts of the doctors and nurses at the hospital, 22-year-old Saint Helene died just a few hours before we went to visit her again. From the time she first felt ill to the time she passed away, was less than 24 hours. Sweet Cherie is doing well medically, but has also instantly become an orphan in this disaster-stricken country.

soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Linda

    Yes, CNN desperately needs an editor, but is that really those most important thing you can think of to say to this tragedy?

    October 29, 2010 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. ShantelB

    Sad, sad story. My heart goes out to all those who have lost their lives and are still ill.

    October 29, 2010 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob

      It's more than just sad. Those poor people have been through enough!

      October 31, 2010 at 12:48 | Report abuse |
  3. Summer819

    God bless little Cherie. I hope a loving home is found for her and the other children stricken with such tragedy.

    October 29, 2010 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Lana26

    sad that people suffer, but at that same time this country will never ever ever change of corraption, where did all the money go tha they gave them when earthquake hit, nothing has been done but their top goverment people are not effected or even face this problem, sad really sad

    October 29, 2010 at 13:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeff Hartman

      Regardless of corruption, that doesn't mean we stop trying. These are desperate and amazing people.

      October 29, 2010 at 14:38 | Report abuse |
    • Kam

      What people fail to realize is that although much money has been promised, most of it has not been given yet and is held up in bureaucratic red tape. Corruption is not the problem here but an ineffective government and poor infrastructure. Another article said there are Cholera medicines at the port but the person in charge is more concerned about forms and papers than actually distributing it.

      October 29, 2010 at 14:47 | Report abuse |
    • Drumcp

      Which money are you talking about? The money that they are waiting on the outcome of the Elections in Haiti to give to the newly organized government! Which money are you talking about? The American Red Cross has raised more than $460 million but how much of that money went to help Haiti? You be the Investigator! The corruption starts with the International Community in this case, you can spend and use what you dont have...

      October 29, 2010 at 15:19 | Report abuse |
    • Al

      Corruption? You don't even know what you are talking about. The government there has not even received any of that money to begin with. All those charities that collected money following the earthquake are still holding on to the funds, collecting interests. Why don't you ask the American Red Cross and others how much of your money they have spent in Haiti? C'mon, make that damn phone call! You'd be surprised!

      October 31, 2010 at 00:54 | Report abuse |
  5. Patrick

    i don't really think it's ok to show what seems to be a dead mother on the CNN homepage.

    October 29, 2010 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kmon

      She's not dead, at least not in the photo. If you watch the video, you can see that she is still alive at that point.

      October 30, 2010 at 13:54 | Report abuse |
  6. Matthew

    Does anyone know why she died? Most Cholera patients survive once they are under care and receive proper hydration and electrolytes. Did she receive proper treatment? If she was filmed and interviewed, then I would also expect that she would receive IV fluids. Was her death preventable? I would like to know if she received proper care.

    October 29, 2010 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. daisy

    You need an editor. This piece needs work.

    October 29, 2010 at 14:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. MB

    Linda, you also are in desperate need of an editor. This piece is a load of bullshit, how it makes the front page of CNN is beyond anyone. We all know what's happening in Haiti is a shame, but I'm sad I took the time out of my day to read a story that both wasn't news, and didn't enlighten anyone.

    October 29, 2010 at 14:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ben

      MB: you, with your unsupported, childish little rant are obviously incapable of being enlightened. That is your problem, not this blog. It's a quick piece that illustrates what Cholera can do and how scary it is. The purpose is to remind us what is happening to human beings in Haiti. Since it's over your head, start from the beginning. Pick up some "Baby Einstein" and in a couple decades you will be intellectually mature enough to handle this type of media.

      October 29, 2010 at 16:36 | Report abuse |
  9. Jessy

    @ Daisy – People are dying in Haiti and all you can think of is that this article needs work? Did you misplace your emotion somewhere?

    October 29, 2010 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. musings

    "The past is not dead. In fact it is not past." That is cholera, which used to kill in the United States. Here is a young woman who even though she was given medical care, went from seeming well to being dead in 24 hours. What happens in Haiti does not have to stay in Haiti. An epidemic is serious and the devastating quake set the stage for it. Who is to say we here in the States are immune? That's why what has happened in Haiti must be fixed, apart from normal human compassion which should remind us that these people are suffering in real time.

    October 29, 2010 at 14:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. NauticalMan

    Sen. Tom Coburn, M.D., Oklahoma, has been holding up all American aid to Haiti due to his not agreeing with $5M dollars of the total #1.2 Billion dollars. Let's let him know we want this aid to go to Haiti now before more die. This is apparently not the first time he has held up similar bills. He has a personal hold on this bill, done anonymously, as any Senator can do. Another archaic Senate rule that needs to be changed. On person holding up the democratic process is a travesty.

    October 29, 2010 at 14:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Interesting

      Forget the damn aide. Let them care for themselves and attempt to better themselves. Keep the money here.

      October 29, 2010 at 15:09 | Report abuse |
  12. Richard

    I was in west Africa during a similar Cholera epidemic a few years back. It was awful. The photo here does not begin to tell the tale. CNN has shown a great deal of restraint. The photo is actually pretty compared to the reality of the disease and its impact on the community. Those who whine about human interest stories should show a little more empathy for their fellow man. They are there to prick one's conscience. CNN's only error was to assume that some readers have feelings in the first place.

    October 29, 2010 at 14:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. haitianus

    Hello Sanjay, Good reporting.
    Why did she die? Investigate to see if she received IV potassium as well. She could have die for severe hypokalemia, particularly if she received IV saline without K. I know there must not have the lab support to check. a potassium level.

    By the way, while you are there, can you investigate a little deeper, the theory of presumed accidental import of the Vibrio cholerae with UN personnel?
    Thank you!

    October 29, 2010 at 14:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Brad

    Haiti is a filthy country that doesn't deserve to be. It's built on a wasteland in a natural danger zone. The entire place was just as bad pre-hurricane. When an entire country is founded by slaves, this is what you get. I don't pity this country nor do I want to "help" a bunch of people who won't take the effort to help themselves first.

    Also, before you spew affirmative action maybe you should look at the facts first. I bet we'll be "helping" Haiti for a very long time.

    October 29, 2010 at 14:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BB

      Wow, Brad! You are a piece of work. I've been to Haiti and met a lot of amazing people who don't deserve any of the crap they deal with.

      I help whomever I can without regard to age, race, etc. or however their country of citizenship was founded. I hope that if you ever need help, you receive it despite your attitude.

      October 29, 2010 at 15:02 | Report abuse |
    • Interesting

      Brad...go boy!!!! I applaud you. Wish more people thought like us.

      October 29, 2010 at 15:06 | Report abuse |
    • Esteria

      I will only send money if they use it for birth control.

      October 29, 2010 at 15:12 | Report abuse |
    • Gary B

      My suggestion was to send you places to get the true story on Haiti when I suddenly realized that with the vacuum head that you have, the reading might give you a brain freeze..ooops! I forgot you don't have a brain, so why am I making wasting my time with you. Make no mistake though I'll be here to even teach you some of your own history, but only after you receive a brain transplant. Guess what? It may even be a Haitian surgeon performing the operation.

      October 29, 2010 at 17:09 | Report abuse |
    • Kriss77

      You're a real prick Brad....Wait, pricks are useful, I take that back. You'd be singing a different tune if the tables were turned. Wouldn't you expect someone to help you if you knew they could? I totally believe in karma and your gonna get it back a lot harder than you think. People are dying and you have no heart. You ARE deficient in human sensibility. Assh*le!!!

      October 30, 2010 at 06:48 | Report abuse |
    • Nate

      You are right, Brad....let's stop caring. Unless the country is of value to us, that is....

      October 31, 2010 at 12:50 | Report abuse |
  15. Marie

    its amazing how people are sooo insensitive and heartless sometimes! so I guess its okay to make the front line news when a large number die but not ONE? this clearly shows the degree of how people value human lives. (sigh!)

    only things that are beneficial for certain people should be reported by CNN then? selfish? um.. I guess not right? how could people feel let alone even know if they don't have a conscience!? sad..

    October 29, 2010 at 14:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Jean J

    I agree with the FDA and I believe this drug should never be approved - both ingredients are dangerous and can prove to be fatal. I personally developed severe breathing problems while on topiramate (brand name =topomax) (which I was taking to prevent migraines) . The severe risks are not worth the possible benefit ...of taking this proposed new drug. Additionally, a caveat to remember is that sometimes it does take a while before a patient begins to experience a severe reaction to a medication so beware before you throw any pill in your mouth!
    See More

    October 29, 2010 at 14:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Interesting

    It must be Gods will to wipe out this country once and for all. Let the course takes it place and get some educated people to take over. So sad to see these ignorant uneducated people having kid after kid and not being able to raise them. God had to do something since he couldn't tie all their tubes.

    October 29, 2010 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jenn

      you know what...I actually totally agree.

      November 1, 2010 at 12:34 | Report abuse |
    • Not surprised by you

      I'm not surprised by your response or disposition. Those furthest from God tend to speak the loudest and in the most ignorant of ways. But, considering that I do know him. I'm praying for Haiti and for those of you who would actually applaud at the suffering of other living creatures. I pray that no harm will ever fall upon you becaue life is the test and death is the decision.

      November 3, 2010 at 07:47 | Report abuse |
  18. Mizfurball

    @Jean J You are in the wrong post.

    Haiti was founded by slaves who rose up against their oppressors, the French, and won their country. They are a strong people. Wikipedia will give you a condensed history of Haiti. You will find out about the rampant corruption of government. Even now, the current ineffective president, Rene Preval, is backing his relative Jude Celestin, for president in the coming elections. This would mean continued corruption. And the way the election is set up, Preval could actually declare Celestin the winner, even if he does not win, because no neutral government is monitoring the elections. There are a few good people in the race for President, and I certainly hope one of them wins. It would be the best thing for Haiti.
    I could liken this to the corruption in the U.S. Congress, but that is for another article.

    October 29, 2010 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Mearderer

    to user "Brad"
    your mother s CROTCH is way filthier
    she brought forth a scumbag like you common sense

    October 29, 2010 at 19:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Mearderer

    this scum user "Esteria" wrote this
    I will only send money if they use it for birth control.
    yeah i hear the birth control joke all the time

    What money do you have what can you send you probably living from paycheck to paycheck its always the ones that have none that always running their motor mouthves
    like the saying goes
    EMPTY BARREL makes the moist noise

    October 29, 2010 at 19:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Mearderer

    Me when i am outhere i dont play laugh or smile with people i know even if theyre smiling its just plastic i am not Naive i know people are wicked hearted out there and i don t f..ck around with any of them Mankind made me that way and i will never give in
    i hate the world either way people are scums

    October 29, 2010 at 19:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Anthony

    I did not know this illness was this devastating. 8(

    October 29, 2010 at 20:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Can't believe it....

    my prayers are with baby Cherie that she will be placed with a family who will love her, care for her, and keep her safe. thank you for coverage of this tragedy Sanjay. At least someone is telling us the truth, bad editing or not.

    October 29, 2010 at 21:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. kellen

    I don't know which is sadder- the story or the posts. Wow. Some people are incredibly heartless.

    October 30, 2010 at 04:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. judy

    sanjay, excellent reporting as usual. I have the perfect mom for sweet little cherie. Her home study is near completion. I am sure you will receive many of these requests, and maybe, for cheries sake she has close family who will claim her. But oterwise, please consider this a serious offer. They would would be very lucky to have each other.

    October 30, 2010 at 07:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. GG, t

    THis message is for that ignorant bastard name brad, yo are not immune , and just by the way you re talking i can tell you are a sorry excyse of a man, you know what if there s going to be a wipe out, haiti won t be the only country, i love my country, and u have the fucking nerves to say all that shit, go back to your history and see where haitian fit in your history, i hape you die a miserable death you swine

    October 30, 2010 at 08:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. GG, t

    Don t worry brad your time till come, you re just jealous because we took our independence, it wasn t given to us, i can tell you re a racist pig, you have a problem with slaves that revolts and take their independence, that s too bad because we have a black man as the president of the united states and his ancestor s were slaves who would of thought. You re just mad cause you re fucking broke and can t make better for yourself, haiti used to be beautiful. And for the person that wants to give money for birth control, you should shov it at your mom s ass so she won t create bastards like you anymore, heartless swines

    October 30, 2010 at 08:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jenn

      of course...make everything about race as always. If someone has a different view about things and simply says something like they should stop having so many kids in these poor countries and always expect help then you get a million replies of offended people who scream racism. Looks to me like you're the racist so maybe you should shut the f$$$ up

      November 1, 2010 at 12:38 | Report abuse |
  28. Sharon Lundgren

    Millions of dollars were sent to Haiti. Why has the government or volunteer organizations not taken the appropriate steps to ensure fresh water and proper disposal of sewage and garbage? NOTE: I recall this was predicted many months ago by various experts. Thus why was it allowed to happen?

    October 30, 2010 at 08:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Bob

    Just please go to drcoffee.org and make a small donation directly into the hands of those who will put it to the needed use. I rarely donate to anything...but this young lady seems genuine, and I highly respect her efforts. The situation in this country has the makings of a catostrophic disaster, as if the earthquake wasn't enough.

    October 30, 2010 at 08:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. JB

    Here is my .50 about this cholerae issue in Haiti.
    I am from Haiti. I have been to most cities in Haiti and I saw the conditions people are living in certain areas however, there had never been an outbreak of this disease (bacterium Vibrio cholerae) in Haiti. When I read the news on Yahoo!, automatically I retraced the source where they say the bacteria is present (at the main water source for half of the country) then I concluded that the bacterium Vibrio cholerae is purposely implanted to create more problem for the country and its citizens.
    Some of the comments posted here in regards to this cholerae crisis in Haiti are unjust and inhumane. These comments give me the opportunity to state once again to use good judgement and critical thinking processes before saying anything that could be damaging to a person or even a country.
    I was right to say that the bacteriae was implanted. Investigation conducted yesterday revealed that the UN (the occupying force in Haiti; the United Nations) is to blame for this crisis. The UN has a camp site located near the main water source where the bacteriae was discovered and that there is a feces dump from the camp that leads straight to the water source. The UN is trying to cover it up but reporters have been to the sites and had taken pictures as proof what is going on. The UN has taken a very defensive posture and refuse to discuss the matter.
    This is not the first time this has been happening and there is a good reason for them to do it...to extend their contract with the idea to help to country deals with the bacteriae. Problem in HAiti benefits the UN because this is where the money is. Haiti, as we all know is a pile of rare gold to many. If it is as bad as they keep saying it is, why nobody wants to leave it alone especially the big players? If Haiti is as poor as they keep on saying, full of diseases, and now Cholera, why the big players cannot afford to stay away from it? There is a powerful hand behind Haiti's suffering and misery; a powerful hand that keeps interfering in Haiti's affaires. After the quake, Haiti has been compared with Saudi Arabia in terms of oil resources. The Canadians are digging out gold in the Northwestern part of the country; the US is in the process of confiscating oil rich lands in the island of LaGonave...but when you look at the CIA factbook about Haiti, it claims that Haiti has no gold, no oil, no natural resources. This is to tell you all what is going on in Haiti. Before Jean-Claude Duvalier left the country, he stated ("Haiti is like a cigar being smoke at both ends").

    October 30, 2010 at 12:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LALA


      November 1, 2010 at 14:57 | Report abuse |
    • Jenn

      Lala you are so right! just hard for them to admit the real truth. It's much easier to condemn others for racism.

      November 1, 2010 at 15:15 | Report abuse |
  31. mike

    Perhaps if our country (USA) gave them the money pledged after the last disaster things would be different. However the greedy corporate conservatives filibuster. GOD DAMN THEIR INACTION!

    October 30, 2010 at 16:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. mike

    For "brad" this veteran wouldnt mind putting a 5.56 smack in the middle of your useless eyes. YOU and people like YOU are why this country is in such a pathetic mess. We MUST help others or we lower ourselves to pond scum level. hurry up and die, satans waiting for you.

    October 30, 2010 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. anonymous

    stop making a big fuss out of this. cholera is self-limited! majority of cases do not require any medical treatment, antibiotics, or even hospitalization. it is the haitians' fault for corruption and failure to get off their behind and clean up their country.

    October 30, 2010 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. lilly

    BRAD you f crazy check yourself no more slavery no more before you try go back to 1800S you better think

    October 30, 2010 at 16:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. third world view


    October 30, 2010 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Oscar

    I just hope they get adequate help soon.
    Btw, President Obama's father is Kenyan, so I don't know if one can accurately say his ancestors were slaves just because he is African American.

    October 31, 2010 at 01:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. belize4obama

    I had thought that idiots are in short supply and here come brad & co. i real-ize that it is to educate a rock! u and your kind are rocks brad!

    October 31, 2010 at 01:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. belize4obama

    I meant to say it is haqd to educate rocks

    October 31, 2010 at 01:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. belize4obama

    I meant to say it is hard to educate rocks

    October 31, 2010 at 01:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. b-cuz-i-care

    For "kmon" & "Dr. Gupta(?)-the one who wrote the article..." Thank you for your "HONESTY!!!" It's nice to see it being used to "Educate" truth seekers!!!

    October 31, 2010 at 06:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. b-cuz-i-care

    Also, Thank you to all the other "kind-hearted & sincere" people, who posted on this article, as well!!!

    October 31, 2010 at 06:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. NoSuchThingAsAnOpinion

    I placed 74th in the world in intelligence and write about political and social issues. NoSuchThingAsAnOpinion. nosuchthingasanopinion.weebly.com/no-such-thing-as-an-opinion.html

    October 31, 2010 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Nesa101

    Haiti! My prayers go out to you and all around you! Get better soon! I hope I can get one of you to become my pen-pal. This sickness is very contagouse so be careful!!!!!!! <3 Get better soon!

    October 31, 2010 at 16:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. go to Roblox.com the free online game for kids.

    diarrhea. lolololo troll. XD

    October 31, 2010 at 20:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. go to Roblox.com the free online game for kids.

    it is tradect but im just a kid

    October 31, 2010 at 20:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Von TC

    The Lord says the First shall be Last and the Last shall be First.May the Lord God heal the Haitian People and forgive them. May God also continue to bless America for helping all the countries in need.If people everywhere,including Haiti and elsewhere confess their sins, repent and return to God Jeovah, God will forgive them, bless them, heal them and save them.

    October 31, 2010 at 21:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LALA

      I agree, bu the people of Haiti refuse to stop the voodoo and the raping of women and children. During all the disasters, you would think these people are tied of living in misery. But they are not, they refuse to listen and want to do whatever they heart desires without looking at the cost. Unitl they turn back to God, and do for themselves stop depending on others.. Haiti will always be last never first. That land is demonic tbat is why there is always disasters happening. They are goign to have to pray themselves out of this one.. no one else can help.

      November 1, 2010 at 15:03 | Report abuse |
    • LALA

      I agree, but the people of Haiti refuse to stop the voodoo and the raping of women and children. During all the disasters, you would think these people are tied of living in misery. But they are not, they refuse to listen and want to do whatever they heart desires without looking at the cost. Unitl they turn back to God, and do for themselves stop depending on others.. Haiti will always be last never first. The land is demonic that is why there is always disasters happening. They are going to have to pray themselves out of this one.. no one else can help.

      November 1, 2010 at 15:07 | Report abuse |
  47. Hughie

    Still waiting for the Red Cross to distribute more of the 483 million bucks it collected just after the earthquake. So far, the organization has ONLY spent 28% saying the rest was for "long range future projects", whatever THAT means.
    With every update report, the latest being the colhera outbreak,I don't know why the RC is holding back money for future projects when they should have devoted every dollar to the here and now needs of the people they purported to help with OUR donations.

    November 2, 2010 at 13:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. World Health Organization

    A PAHO/WHO warehouse is the main source of all medical supplies in Haiti.

    This video shows large supplies of glucose to suggest that supplies are being hoarded during the cholera outbreak ravaging the county; however glucose is not used to treat cholera and therefore the footage misrepresents the situation.

    So far, PAHO/WHO has distributed over 3,500 litters of IV fluids, 64 , 000 sachets of oral rehydration salts and 180,000 antibiotic tablets. In addition diarrhoea kits to treat up to 5000 people have been delivered. More needs to be done, but it is a start.

    November 5, 2010 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. 0.....................................o

    I was researching Cholera for class and had no idea how devistating it is. this is sooooooo sad

    December 16, 2011 at 09:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Julie

    Did Cherie ever find a family?????

    December 25, 2011 at 17:33 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.