03 February, 2011

Cholera in Venezuela, Meningitis in a Florida Prison, and More Weekly Updates

Cholera Spreads to Venezuela
The Cholera outbreak in Haiti beginning in October has infected nearly 210,000 people and killed more than 4,000. This terrible disease spread to a neighboring country, the Dominican Republic, where there have been 238 registered cases and one recent death.
On January 22, a wedding was held in the Dominican Republic and 452 people ate lobster that was infected with the Cholera bacteria. Upon returning to Caracas, Venezuela, the wedding guests may have brought Cholera with them. The Venezuelan Health Minister, Eugenia Sader, reports that one-by-one, people who attended the wedding are being checked for the infection. So far, 135 people in Venezuela are being treated for Cholera.
It is unclear what the consequences may be as twelve of the Venezuelans infected with the Cholera bacteria are still in the Dominican Republic, but four others have traveled to the United States, Mexico and Spain. Health officials are encouraging anyone exposed to this bacterium to get tested, even if they are not showing any symptoms, which include intense diarrhea, vomiting and nausea.

Meningitis Confirmed in Florida Prison
Last week, the Martin County Health Department released an official press release stating that a confirmed case of meningococcal meningitis had been identified in a prison inmate at the Martin Correctional Institution in Indiantown, Florida. As of January 26th, 2 additional inmate - 1 confirmed and 1 suspect - have been admitted to the Martin Memorial Hospital for treatment. As a precautionary measure, the facility was placed on temporary lock-down - not admitting any new inmates, and some staff and inmates were placed on antibiotics. Those who refused treatment were placed into quarantine for a minimum of 10 days. Meningococcal Meningitis is an incredibly fast acting bacterial disease with high fatality - causing inflammation in the lining of the brain and death in approximately 15 percent of cases, even with the availability of antibiotic treatment.

Leptospirosis in Brazil
On February 2nd, an outbreak of leptospirosis was reported in two cities of Rio de Janeiro State in Brazil, with Teresópolis reporting 2 confirmed cases and Nova Friburgo reporting 26 confirmed cases. Leptospirosis is known to occur most frequently in the weeks after heavy rainfall or flooding, both of which occurred late last month in Rio de Janeiro state. Leptospirosis is spread through direct contact with an infected host and also via exposure to water or soil contaminated with fluids from an infected host.

Hepatitis A Hovers over Mato Grosso
In Brazil’s Mato Grosso state, 32 cases of Hepatitis A were confirmed by the state Secretary of Health in the city of Santo Antônio do Leste (located 379 kilometers south of Cuiabá). There is concern that this outbreak may spread to cities nearby, such as Paratinga (located 389 kilometers from Cuiabá). Secretary of Heath representatives are recommending that schools be postponed for 30 days and that daycare facilities follow suit. Hepatitis A is a virus spread via the ingestion of fecal matter (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this infection may occur with fecal matter “even in microscopic amounts’’) from an infected host.

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