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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Cholera outbreaks in Caribbean, Africa spark alerts

European Union (EU) health officials today warned travelers about a risk of contracting cholera in the Dominican Republic, a magnet for tourists, while the World Health Organization (WHO) said cholera outbreaks along Africa's Congo River have killed 271 people. In a report released today but dated June 2011, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said cholera is becoming endemic in the Dominican Republic. The country shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, which has been battling a large cholera epidemic since October 2010.

Cholera first spread from Haiti to the Dominican Republic last November, and the latter had had 5,367 suspected cases with 46 deaths by mid-June, the ECDC reported. It said 1,727 cases were confirmed. "Despite intense efforts by the Ministries of Health in Haiti and the Dominican Republic and by humanitarian workers involved in the response to the epidemic, cholera is becoming endemic in both countries," the report says. "It is anticipated that further epidemic peaks will occur, particularly during the rainy season" (April to June and October-November).

Two European tourists, a 69-year-old English woman and a 60-year-old German woman, contracted cholera while staying at resorts in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, in May, the report says. Theirs were the first Dominican-linked cases reported by EU member states since the epidemic began. The sources of their infections were not pinpointed and could have been either water or food.

Source: Centre for Infectuous Disease Research & Policy

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