Dominican Republic hit by new cholera cases

A rash of new cholera cases in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, has recently prompted the Health Ministry to declare a state of alert in 17 of the city’s neighborhoods.

Vice Minister of Health Jose Rodriguez announced on May 16 that there have been 16 people hospitalized with suspected cholera, the Associated Press reports. All of the infected are reportedly in stable condition, but two deaths related to the disease have occurred in recent days. Doctors have also begun to search for additional people with cholera-like symptoms.

The Dominican Republic had not detected a single cholera case in the country for at least a century before a devastating outbreak occurred in neighboring Haiti in October. Nearly 5,000 Haitians have died from the disease since then.

Since the beginning of the outbreak in the Dominican Republic in November, 750 cases have been reported and fourteen people have died, the AP reports. The first death from cholera in the country occurred in January.

Dominican authorities tightened border controls and increased health checks in an effort to head off the outbreak soon after Haiti’s first cases were reported.

The recent release of a joint French-Haitian study pointed to the arrival of United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal as a potential origin of the outbreak, though the evidence is circumstantial. The group said that human activity was the source of the outbreak, but also said the disease could not have spread without the deficiencies in Haiti’s water, sanitation and sewer systems, according to CIDRAP News.