CARACAS – The Venezuelan government said Friday that 111 people “are receiving treatment” in the country after catching cholera in the Dominican Republic, and warned that another 339 “are spreading the bacteria without knowing it.”
“If we can get these 450 people to be treated, we won’t have an epidemic in Venezuela,” Health Minister Eugenia Sader said on state television.
All these people went last weekend to a wedding in the Dominican Republic, where “we have confirmed that the cholera bacteria was in the food they ate,” the Venezuelan minister said.
Sader particularly stressed that more than 80 percent of the 339 people who still have not gone to a medical center will have no signs of the disease, while no more than 5 percent “will have grave symptoms.”
“We’re worried that some of these people – without knowing it, of course – could travel to areas that have no sewage systems, such as places along the border and indigenous areas, where a very serious epidemic could break out,” she said.
“We ask all who attended the event to undergo the respective treatment, which is very simple: there are three pills that are taken all at once,” she said.
Of the 111 “already receiving treatment,” the minister said, 27 are hospitalized and the rest are outpatients.
Venezuelan health authorities have also confirmed 12 cases in the Dominican Republic, two in Madrid, one in Mexico and one in Boston among citizens of the South American country who attended the wedding.
The lobsters served at the wedding came from the coasts of the Dominican province of Pedernales on the Haitian border, a country where a cholera epidemic has affected since mid-October some 200,000 people and has caused close to 4,000 deaths.
A communique from the Dominican Public Health Ministry said Thursday that “failures have been detected in the refrigeration” of the lobsters, and in addition “they were not as well cooked as they should have been” when served at the reception attended by more than 500 guests. EFE