SAINT MARC (Haiti) - THE cholera that has killed 135 people in Haiti is the most deadly and dangerous kind, a health official said on Friday as doctors and relief groups scrambled to contain the outbreak.

The strain of cholera seen in camps north of the capital is 'the most dangerous type,' said Health Minister Alex Larsen, as contaminated river water was seen as the likely source of the bacteria.

Mr Larsen said tests by the World Health Organisation confirmed the 01 strain of cholera which is the most deadly and is responsible for most of the outbreaks around the world.

'We are in a sanitary crisis, this is a new woe for the country which has not seen this disease in the past,' Mr Larsen said after a crisis meeting with President Rene Preval.

The outbreak hit the northern part of Haiti, where hospitals were overflowing with some 1,500 new patients as the country still reels from an earthquake in January that killed more than 250,000 people and left another 1.2 million homeless.

The scope of the outbreak has grown rapidly in the past few days but has not yet reached the major displaced persons camps in and around the capital Port-au-Prince. But officials fear the illness, which is caused by a bacterial infection in the small intestines, could spread quickly in densely populated tent cities that have poor sanitation and meagre medical facilities, with the potential of unleashing a public health disaster.

Haiti cholera is deadliest strain