CDC Reminds Travelers of Cholera in Haiti

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Since Jan 12, 2010 when an earthquake occurred, Haiti has seen more than 300 deaths from a cholera outbreak, with the majority of cases reported in the Artibonite Departmente, approximately 50 miles north of Port Au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. 

Cholera is not a disease in the developed countries but it is fairly common in some poor countries, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which updated its advice on cholera in Haiti to remind American travelers of a potential risk.

Cholera is caused by the bacterium Vibro cholerae. Each year an estimated 3 to 5  million people get infected with the pathogenic bacteria and about 100,000 people die from the disease, according to the CDC.

The CDC says cholera is a potentially fatal bacterial infection that causes severe diarrhea and dehydration.  The infection can spread through the ingestion of food or drinking water contaminated with the feces of an infected person or by untreated sewage.

Food is often tainted by water containing cholera bacteria or because it is handled by a person infected with cholera bacteria.

The CDC gives travelers the following advice:

1) Make sure to talk to your doctor before you depart for Haiti about getting a prescription antibiotic so you can take if if you have diarrhea.

2) Drink only boiled water or bottled water.

3) Don't put ice on drinks just in case the ice is tainted with cholera bacteria. 

4) Eat foods that are only thoroughly cooked and are still hot.  If you eat fruit, make sure you have peeled yourself.

5) Don't eat undercooked or raw fish or shellfish just in case they are tainted with cholera bacteria.

6) Make sure all vegetables are cooked. And don't eat salads or other raw vegetables.  Don't eat foods or drink beverages fro street vendors.

Finally don't bring perishable seafood back to the United States from Haiti as seafood may be tainted with cholera bacteria.

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