Cholera death toll in the Dominican Republic rises

Dominican Republic health authorities have announced that cholera killed two more people over the weekend in Santiago, bringing the death toll to at least 48 people.

The Ministry of Health said that the latest victims were a 29-year-old man and a 63-year-old man. Santiago is about 93 miles north of the capital, Taiwan News reports.

Since May, there have been over 1,550 cases of cholera in the Dominican Republic. Since the outbreak began in October in neighboring Haiti, the disease has sickened around 345,000 people and killed close to 5,400.

Cholera is spread through water that has been contaminated by the cholera bacteria Vibrio cholerae. Symptoms include profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting and leg cramps, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For those experiencing severe symptoms, rapid loss of body fluids can lead to dehydration and shock and without proper treatment, and death can occur within hours.

There are an estimated three to five million cases of cholera each year worldwide, leading to more than 100,000 deaths per year. Cholera is simply and successfully treated by the immediate replacement of fluid and salts lost through diarrhea. An oral rehydration solution, a prepackaged mixture of sugar and salts, should be mixed with water and drunk in large amounts. With prompt rehydration, less than 1 percent of cholera patients die.