WASHINGTON- The death toll from devastating earthquake in Haiti may be as high as 50,000 to 100,000 people, the Pan American Health Organization said on Friday.
A variety of sources are estimating the numbers (at) between 50,000 and 100,000, Jon Andrus of PAHO, the Americas arm of the World Health organization, told a news briefing.
It's just a huge guess. I just want to be clear that we really don't know, Andrus added. We just don't have the information.
Andrus said there would be time to bury the bodies in a respectful manner and the corpses did not pose a health threat. He added the distribution of clean water was more important.
Diarrhea outbreaks could pose a huge problem and that is why water is such a priority,' he said.
Injured people are also vulnerable to tetanus, he said, and vaccination against the disease had been poor in Haiti.
One myth is that the disaster causes outbreaks or plagues. That is not the case in most disasters, Andrus said. But outbreaks of diarrhea, respiratory disease and viruses such as measles are possible.
Andrus said PAHO would work on mass vaccination campaigns later.
(Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by Derek Caney)