The Collective Preventive Services (CPS) which is part of the Ministry of Public Health, says its travel advisory to Hispanola (Haiti, Dominican Republic) remains in force due to the cholera outbreak which has claimed a total of 5,234 persons in Haiti. The cumulative number of cholera cases in Haiti stands at 302,401 according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) with respect to Haiti, up to May 10.
In Haiti a number of new hospitalizations is observed in comparison with previous weeks in Haiti, especially in the South-East and North-West departments and in the capital city, Port-au-Prince. Additionally, Arbonite and Centre continue to report new cases and an increase in cases have also been reported in the border zone.
The Ministry of Health of the Dominican Republic has reported an increase in the number of suspected cases of cholera principally in the peripheral area of Santo Domingo, near river Ozama and Isabela.
As of May 18, the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Health reported a total of 1,085 laboratory confirmed cases of cholera, including 13 fatal cases since the beginning of the outbreak.
Since the beginning of the outbreak in the last quarter of 2010, there have been cholera-related cases, and hospitalizations registered in 26 out of the 31 provinces of the Dominican Republic.
Persons who plan to travel to Hispanola are advised to take preventive measures. Ensure taking vital precautions such as hygienic food preparation, boiling or purifying all water, and washing hands often with soap and clean water.
Family physicians are requested to be on alert and report any cholera symptoms to CPS to ensure proper case management and follow up according to WHO International Health Regulations.
Symptoms can occur within 24 to 48 hours of being infected with the cholera causing bacteria. Cholera symptoms are generally mild; they include diarrhea, vomiting, and muscle cramps. About one infected person out of 20 has severe signs and symptoms, such as increased heart rate, dehydration, and shock. Immediately consult your physician if you have travelled and have symptoms, while maintaining proper hygiene.
Cholera is a bacterial infection spread through contaminated water. It causes severe diarrhea and vomiting that can lead to dehydration and death within hours.
Cholera is transmitted through fecal contamination of water and food. In places where there is infrastructure damage, the lack of safe drinking water and poor sanitation and hygiene can increase the risk of cholera, as well as numerous other diarrhea diseases.
Cholera is easily treatable, and if patients are given oral re-hydration salts promptly to replace lost fluids, and they can nearly always be cured.
In a small percentage of people, cholera can cause very severe dehydration potentially leading to death. To minimize the number of people infected, frequent hand washing, personal hygiene, safe water use and food preparation are a necessity.
By taking a few basic precautions, cholera as well as most other food and water-borne diseases can easily be prevented. The main rule is, always be aware of the quality of what you eat and drink.