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Wednesday
Nov172010

Health Department Announces Cholera Case Confirmed

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NAPLES, Fla.) -- The Collier County Health Department has confirmed a case of cholera in a woman who recently returned from Haiti.  “This was not unexpected, because of the current cholera outbreak in Haiti and the number of travelers we have between Haiti and Collier County,” explains Joan Colfer, M.D., M.P.H., Director of the Collier County Health Department. 

The woman has fully recovered and while she was sick, she did not transmit the illness to anyone else.  The health department monitored the case and her contacts daily to confirm the illness did not infect anyone else. Dr. Colfer adds, “there is currently no reason for alarm as this person is no longer infectious.”

The case of cholera was identified through the state’s enhanced disease surveillance system and sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where it was confirmed.  Travel to and from Haiti has increased since the Haitian earthquake.  Relief workers and Florida residents who are visiting family in Haiti are the primary populations making the trip. Travelers who have been exposed in Haiti may become ill with cholera after their return to Florida.  The state has asked local health care providers to watch for people who become sick or show symptoms of cholera after returning from travel to Haiti.  Further, the Department of Health is encouraging health care providers to administer specific cholera testing in suspected cases and notify FDOH of its laboratory results. 

Although the potential for the spread of cholera is low, the FDOH wants to ensure high-risk situations such as cholera in a food-handler or clusters of illness are identified, and those affected are provided medical treatment.  Suspected cases of cholera should be immediately reported to County Health Departments by doctors, hospitals and laboratories without waiting for laboratory confirmation.  

Further, the Department of Health is encouraging health care providers to administer specific cholera testing in suspected cases and notify FDOH of its laboratory results. Family members and caretakers of ill travelers returning from Haiti should wash their hands frequently as they may be at risk of contracting cholera if handling the vomit or feces of an infected person.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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