Puerto Rico reports cholera case

Health officials in Puerto Rico have reported the island’s first case of cholera linked to the current outbreak in neighboring Hispaniola.

Lorenzo Gonzalez Feliciano, the country’s health secretary, said that the case, which was announced on Monday, involved a 70-year-old man who had visited the Dominican Republic for a week. The man is hospitalized in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Privacy laws have prohibited officials from releasing more information about the case, the Washington Post reports.

Due to the better sanitation in Puerto Rico, health officials believe the disease is unlikely to spread as it has in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the Washington Post reports. Cholera has killed more than 36 people in the Dominican Republic and more than 5,500 people in Haiti since October.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by an intestinal infection by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Because the cholera bacterium is usually found in food or water sources contaminated by feces from a person infected with cholera, it is most likely to be found in places with poor sanitation, inadequate water treatment and inadequate hygiene.

Precautions should be observed when visiting a location with a cholera epidemic, including drinking only bottled, boiled or chemically treated water and beverages and to making sure the seal has not been broken. Hands should also frequently be washed with soap and clean water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner with at least 60 percent alcohol, and only foods that are packaged or freshly cooked and served hot should be eaten.