A second Massachusetts resident has been diagnosed with cholera and four others are suspected of having the intestinal ailment, state disease trackers reported today.
Like the man treated this week at Massachusetts General Hospital for the disease, the other patients attended a lavish wedding at a resort in the Dominican Republic and fell ill upon returning home. All the patients are recovering, and there is no evidence the disease is spreading in Massachusetts, said Dr. Larry Madoff, director of the Division of Epidemiology and Immunization at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
A young woman complaining of diarrhea -- one of the hallmarks of cholera -- was treated in the emergency room at Brigham and Women's Hospital earlier this week and given oral rehydration, said Erin McDonough, spokeswoman for the Boston hospital. Preliminary testing found that the woman, who was not identified because of patient confidentiality laws, had cholera.
"The physician I spoke with said there's very little concern with cholera cases in the US because of the availability of medications and clean water," McDonough said. "It's unlikely there would be any transmission."
A father and his three children are suspected of having the bacterial condition, said Madoff, adding that disease specialists are awaiting laboratory tests on at least one member of the family before a firm diagnosis can be made.
"We're certainly very suspicious that one or more of the family members may turn out to be positive as well," Madoff said. That family, he said, was "in the same setting where we know everybody else acquired it."
That setting was the Casa de Campo resort in the Dominican Republic, where more than 400 guests celebrated a wedding last weekend. Dozens -- including attendees from Venezuela, the United States, and elsewhere -- became sick after returning home. The timing of their symptoms suggests they were infected while in the Dominican Republic.
The source of the outbreak is unknown. It has been reported that guests dined on lobster, and shellfish can harbor the germs. But if food is cooked thoroughly, the risk of infection should be mitigated. Cholera most often spreads through tainted water or sewage but can be conveyed by contaminated food.
The resort issued a statement today saying that while it "deeply regrets the food poisoning/cholera cases that recently occurred during an exclusive wedding party in a private villa residence within our resort," the food, drinks, and ice were provided by an outside catering company hired by the party's hosts.
The strain of the disease circulating in the Dominican Republic has been linked to an epidemic in Haiti that has killed more than 3,000 since October.
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