In the raggedy Sinai tent camp, a 7-year-old with a distended belly and missing front teeth struggled to dump a bucket filled with watery diarrhea in a putrid outhouse.

Two women with brooms and water — but no disinfectant — frantically scrubbed the hole in the ground after the boy, Abdias Hilaire, had finished. Abdias is fine, his mother said, but two other children in their tent are sick, and everybody is terrified of what that portends.

Diarrhea, while a common ailment here, is a symptom of cholera. And anxiety has been growing fiercely that the cholera epidemic, which began last week in the northwest of Haiti, will soon strike the earthquake-ravaged Port-au-Prince metropolitan area.

“It travels with the speed of lightning, I’ve heard, and it can kill a person in four hours,” said Jean Michel Maximilien, a camp leader. “So of course we are all on edge

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