International SOS Provides Advice, Establishes Global Crisis Team in the Wake of Cholera Outbreak in Haiti

Oct 26, 2010, 12:41 ET from International SOS

TREVOSE, Pa., Oct. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- International SOS, the world's leading international healthcare, medical assistance and security services company, is providing ongoing emergency assistance to clients who have employees based in Haiti, or who may be travelling there.

As a result of the cholera outbreak, the first major disease event since the earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, International SOS activated a team of experts in its Philadelphia alarm center to begin coordinating operations. The global team, made up of medical, security, aviation and logistics experts, has secured assets and providers and is considering options for evacuations. The Philadelphia-based crisis team is providing information and direction to the 24 other International SOS alarm centers around the world and is continuing to prepare and implement action plans that address this highly changeable situation.

"Over the weekend, we began receiving calls from our clients asking for medical advice, and calls keep coming in as we speak," said Suzanne Garber, Chief Operating Officer, Americas Region for International SOS. "We're seeing a blend of non-profits and corporations requesting preventative health information, as many have staff already located in Haiti and are considering deploying more for their work."

An initial medical alert was sent to International SOS members on Friday, October 22, 2010 and has been continually updated since that time. It included analysis, advice and medical tips. International SOS is recommending that travelers reconsider their need to visit Haiti, and defer non-essential trips. Relief workers and others who must travel to affected areas should:

  • Consult a travel medicine physician or clinic for an individualized health and risk assessment prior to departure.
  • Ensure that routine vaccinations (including tetanus, diphtheria and measles) are up-to-date. 
  • Consider the following vaccinations: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid and rabies. 
  • Be aware that malaria risk is present in all of Haiti. Discuss preventative medications with your travel medicine consultant.
  • Research how to avoid illness, select safe foods and water, and avoid injuries.

And while in Haiti, International SOS recommends the following:

  • Monitor developments and heed all warnings. Other natural disasters may still worsen the situation.
  • Be aware of security risks. Looting has occurred in some areas, as well as some protests and civil unrest. Opportunistic crime has increased. 
  • Use an effective insect repellent, such as one containing DEET, Picaridin, PMD, or IR3535. Reapply after swimming or excessive sweating. 
  • Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands with soap regularly and wash skin cuts/abrasions thoroughly. Treat skin infections early. 
  • Drink only boiled or bottled water, or canned or carbonated beverages. Avoid ice, as it may have been made with unsafe water. 
  • Choose food that has been thoroughly cooked while fresh and is served hot. 
  • Avoid food sold by street vendors, pre-peeled fruit or salad, fish and shellfish.

About International SOS

International SOS ( is the world's leading international healthcare, medical assistance, and security services company. Operating in over 70 countries, International SOS provides integrated medical, clinical, and security solutions to organizations with international operations. Services include planning and preventative programs, in-country expertise, and emergency response. A global team of 7,000 employees led by 970 full-time physicians and 200 security specialists provides health and security support to enable its members to operate wherever they work or travel. Members include 69 percent of the Fortune Global 500 companies.

SOURCE International SOS