Venezuelan cholera cases climb to 111

There have been 111 confirmed cases of cholera in Venezuela as more people have tested positive after attending a wedding in the Dominican Republic with contaminated food.

Health Minister Eugenia Sader announced on the Caracas-based television channel Telesur that the patients are receiving treatment and that 27 had been hospitalized, according to the Associated Press.

The number of cases has risen swiftly. Last week, Venezuelan authorities announced that 37 people had the virus in Venezuela, and a further 12 were sick in the Dominican Republic.

Officials from the Dominican Republic said that lobster served at the wedding, held on January 22, appeared to be tainted. Dominican Health Minister Bautista Rojas said that the lobsters were bought from a town that borders Haiti, where more than 3,000 have died from a cholera epidemic in recent months, the AP reports.

Many of the 452 guests at the wedding were Venezuelan, and health officials are trying to contact and treat all of them in order to keep the illness from spreading. Several who have the disease have apparently traveled to Spain, Mexico and the United States.

An official from the Massachusetts health department told the AP that six state residents tested positive for cholera, but that all were treated and released from the hospital.

Jose Rodriguez, a vice minister of the Dominican Health Department, told the AP that there were 25 dishes at the wedding, so not everyone ate lobster.

Clemente Terrero, an infectious disease specialist and a member of the Dominican Medical Association, questions the reliability of the official Dominican statistics on cholera.

"It is not possible that so many people became infected with cholera at one party, and that only 300 cases have been reported in the Dominican Republic in three months," Terrero said, according to the AP.

The fear of cholera has lead to the deportation of Haitian immigrants since the beginning of the year. The Dominican Republic has acknowledged one cholera death since the outbreak began in Haiti.

Before this month, Venezuela had reported no cholera cases since 2000.