CPS calls on physicians to remain alert for Cholera

POSTED: 10/18/13 2:14 PM

St. Maarten – The Collective Preventive Services (CPS) has sent out a notice to all general physicians to remain on alert with respect to cholera after the Ministry of Public Health received a Cholera Alert from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha).

Physicians have been asked to strengthen surveillance of acute gastroenteritis.

CPS retains its travel recommendation for persons traveling to Hispanola (Haiti, Dominican Republic), to continue to be cautious with respect to Cholera.

Travelers to the Dominican Republic are strongly advised to follow basic hygienic habits while in one of the aforementioned countries.

As part of Minister de Weever’s ‘Get Checked,’ campaign, travelers who return to the island and display symptoms of cholera are strongly advised to get checked by visiting their family physician.

CPS continues to maintain Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) recommendations which were reiterated recently to maintain in place surveillance activities to detect the occurrence of outbreaks and implementing intervention actions to reduce cholera spread determinants.

Cholera is a bacterial infection spread through contaminated water. It causes severe diarrhea and vomiting that can lead to dehydration and death within hours.

Cholera is transmitted through fecal contamination of water and food. In places where there is infrastructure damage, the lack of safe drinking water and poor sanitation and hygiene can increase the risk of cholera, as well as numerous other diarrhea diseases.

While in the Dominican Republic ensure that you take vital precautions such as hygienic food preparation, boiling or purifying all water, and washing hands often with soap and clean water.

Symptoms can occur within 24 to 48 hours of being infected with the cholera causing bacteria. Cholera symptoms are generally mild; they include diarrhea, vomiting, and muscle cramps. About one infected person out of 20 has severe signs and symptoms, such as increased heart rate, dehydration, and shock. Immediately consult your physician if you have travelled and have any of the symptoms, while maintaining proper hygiene.

To minimize the number of people infected, frequent hand washing, personal hygiene, safe water use and food preparation are a necessity. Maintain these basic hygienic habits when travelling.

By taking a few basic precautions, cholera as well as most other food and water-borne diseases can easily be prevented. The main rule is, always be aware of the quality of food and drinks.


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