|The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel notice today for US travelers going to the Dominican Republic.
It has been reported that since November 16th, Dominican Republic health officials have confirmed several cases of cholera in the country. The Dominican Republic is on the island of Hispaniola next to cholera plagued Haiti.
Currently the CDC and US State Department have not issued any travel warnings for the country and say the risk of cholera is still low. However, caution should still be exercised.
The CDC advises travelers to follow 5 simple steps to prevent cholera:
- Drink and use safe water
- Wash your hands often with soap and safe water
- Use toilets; do not defecate in any body of water
- Cook food well (especially seafood), keep it covered, eat it hot, and peel fruits and vegetables
- Clean up safely—in the kitchen and in places where the family bathes and washes clothes
Cholera is an acute bacterial intestinal disease characterized by sudden onset, profuse watery stools (given the appearance as rice water stools because of flecks of mucus in water) due to a very potent enterotoxin. The enterotoxin leads to an extreme loss of fluid and electrolytes in the production of diarrhea. It has been noted that an untreated patient can lose his bodyweight in fluids in hours resulting in shock and death.
The bacteria are acquired through ingestion of contaminated water or food through a number of mechanisms. Water is usually contaminated by the feces of infected individuals. Drinking water can be contaminated at the source, during transport or during storage at home. Food can get contaminated by soiled hands, during preparation or while eating.
Beverages and ice prepared with contaminated water and fruits and vegetables washed with this water are other examples. Some outbreaks are linked to raw or undercooked seafood.
Read more details about the CDC recommendations