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Tomas spares Haiti, but cholera still a threat

Hurricane Tomas passed to the west of the crowded Haitian capital Port au Prince over the weekend, mostly sparing the vulnerable earthquake resettlement camps. But local and international authorities continue to worry about the effects of heavy rains on the still-smoldering

cholera outbreak.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the center of Hurricane Tomas passed through the Windward Passage between Haiti and Cuba, keeping its most intense winds focused on the westernmost regions of Haiti. It has since moved north and east into the open Atlantic and merged with larger weather systems, losing its tropical characteristics.

The Haitian government reported eight storm-related fatalities, and thousands of people displaced by flooding.

Cholera has killed more than 500 people in Haiti in recent weeks, and sickened more than 7,700. Storm-caused rains and flooding could help spread the bacteria and lead to more infections. Cholera spreads when contaminated water gets into food and water supplies. Severe diarrhea and vomiting can lead to dehydration, organ failure and death within hours.

(PHOTO: Thony Belizaire, AFP/Getty Images)

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