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On a dusty hilltop above the village of Mirebalais, Haiti, Dr. Thelisma Heber treats Haitians sickened by cholera. The patients are triaged within a series of concrete-floored tents. 

Symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting are physically devastating and quickly become life-threatening. The Mirebalais cholera treatment center's concrete floors are hosed and bleached multiple times a day to help control the spread of bacteria.

Wooden frames covered in canvas double as patient cots and toilets. Buckets kept beneath the relief holes complete the set.

Inside the outpatient tent, 5-month-old Abigail Defolk is treated for what Dr. Heber describes as a "mild case" of cholera.

The baby’s mother and grandfather traveled many hours to the treatment center, first by boat and then by car, when Abigail began showing symptoms of cholera.

Infants and the elderly are especially vulnerable to cholera. Life-threatening dehydration can occur within hours of the first symptoms.

The spread of cholera among family members is common in Haiti because of close living quarters and a lack of access to clean water for drinking, cooking, and bathing.

Several hours after drinking multiple doses of a pediatric rehydration fluid, Abigail and her family are nearly ready to begin the journey home. Dr. Heber instructs the family on the importance of continued hydration for the baby as well as hand-washing for the entire family.

On a nearby bench, a well-dressed gentleman in a straw hat waits to speak with Dr. Heber. Both of the man’s adult daughters are inpatients at the cholera treatment center.

Moments later, the 63-year-old man collapses. He is admitted to the men’s inpatient unit and immediately placed on intravenous fluids.

Dr. Heber orders tests to confirm that the man’s symptoms are caused by cholera. A curtain separates this patient from the women's unit, where his daughters are also being treated.

Twenty-nine-year-old Carline Philus was admitted to the cholera treatment center a day earlier with fairly serious symptoms of cholera.

After several hours on intravenous fluids, Philus is able to sit up and take food by mouth.

Philus' younger sister rests on the cot just across the tent. She was the first in the family to be admitted.

The most severely affected patients often take longer to bounce back from extreme dehydration. Twenty-four hours after arriving at the Mirebalais cholera treatment center, this young woman continues to suffer.

Haiti's spring rains begin in mid-April. Wet weather brings a sharp increase in waterborne illnesses, such as cholera. With a patient count already significantly higher this year than last, Dr. Heber and the Mirebalais cholera treatment center staff brace themselves for a difficult season.

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