GREAT BAY (DCOMM) – Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), is advising travellers from Sint Maarten to especially Haiti, and secondly to the Dominican Republic, to take preventive measures while visiting friends or family in both countries.
Since the beginning of 2015 up to epidemiological week 38, a total of 22,950 cholera cases have been recorded in three countries in the Region of the Americas: Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Haiti alone registered 98 per cent of the cases (22,511) of the total cases.
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease that affects both children and adults and can kill within hours if left untreated. The infection is ingested by food or water contaminated. It has a short incubation period of two hours to five days. Up to 80 per cent of cases can be successfully treated with oral rehydration salts.
While in the Dominican Republic or Haiti, ensure that you take precautions such as hygienic food preparation, boiling or purifying all water, and washing hands often with soap and clean water. Carry with you at all times hand sanitizer.
Symptoms can occur within 24 to 48 hours of being infected with the cholera causing bacteria. Cholera symptoms are generally mild; they include diarrhoea, vomiting, and muscle cramps. About one infected person out of 20 has severe signs and symptoms, such as increased heart rate, dehydration, and shock. If not treated, death can occur within hours.
Cholera is diagnosed by means of a stool sample or rectal swab and sent to the laboratory where the lab confirms the presence of cholera bacterium.
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 as you travel.
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 what you eat and drink. Also be observant of sick persons in your close proximity and maintain strict hygiene practices.
Enjoy and keep safe as you travel and help us keep Sint Maarten Cholera Free!
Upon your return, if you experience any of the abovementioned symptoms, please contact your family physician immediately and CPS.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported in a recent epidemiological update on cholera that since the beginning of the cholera outbreak in October 2010, to epidemiological week 38 of 2015, there were 747,166 cholera cases in Haiti, of which 428,778 were hospitalized, and 8,840 deaths; and since November 2010, to epidemiological week 36 of 2015, the Dominican Republic had a total of 33,180 suspected cholera cases, including 491 deaths.
PAHO points out that it is emphasized that cholera is an event of public health that can be predicted, prevented, and treated.