Confirmed cholera cases rise to 278 in Venezuela

There are currently 278 cases of cholera in Venezuela and as many as one hundred or more who have yet to be treated that are all related to food served at a wedding in the Dominican Republic.

The number of cases rose so quickly that it looked like Venezuela might be the center of cholera epidemic in South America. Venezuela, however, seems to have the situation under control, according to a local representative of the Pan American Health Organization, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Health authorities said that the disease has yet to spread beyond the 452 Venezuelans who visited the Dominican Republic for a wedding on January 22. They were exposed to cholera contaminated food at the wedding. Health inspectors believe lobster, and perhaps shrimp, were tainted.

“It could have been much worse,” Dr. Jorge Jenkins of the PAHO said, according to the Wall Street Journal. Jenkins has been monitoring the disease’s progress, along with the Venezuelan government.

According to the Venezuelan health ministry, 28 patients remain hospitalized and another 64 were given outpatient care. The remaining 186 were asymptomatic.

Jenkins told the Wall Street Journal that the greatest danger of further contamination should have passed, but that complete certainty was impossible. He said that the socioeconomic status of the wedding guests may have contributed to the disease’s containment.

"If those contaminated would have been from humble means, poor people living in areas without sewage systems, in that case, the outbreak would have been major," Jenkins said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

It is likely that the contamination at the wedding had its origins in Haiti, where a deadly outbreak of cholera recently infected a recorded 190,000 people and claimed 4,000 lives.