Why It Took Eleven Months Instead of Three Weeks to Show that Haiti’s Cholera Is Nepalese: a Tale of Noble and Ignoble Scientists, Harvard, and the U.N.

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It took nearly a year since the start of Haiti’s cholera epidemic for scientists to get conclusive proof that the cholera bacteria in Haiti are identical to bacteria in Nepal. Drs. Frank Aarestrup from Denmark, Paul Keim from Arizona, and Geeta Shakya from Kathmandu led a recent study that provided this evidence. The DNA in cholera changes rapidly when these bacteria infect humans. This makes the cholera a moving target and very difficult to vaccinate against. On the other hand, when two cholera turn out to be identical, one can say with confidence that they originated from the same place/infected person(s). By comparing the complete DNA sequences (also called “genomes”) from the cholera…

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