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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Travellers to Dominican Republic offered advice to protect against cholera

Travellers to the Dominican Republic are being reminded to take precautions against cholera.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a news release Monday about the spread of cholera in Haiti and, to a limited degree, the Dominican Republic, which shares the same island.

Earlier this month, the Public Health Agency of Canada posted recommendations on its website for taking safe food and water precautions against the acute intestinal infection while in the Dominican Republic.

It advised Canadians to speak with a health-care provider or travel clinic at least six weeks before travelling, and consider getting vaccinated. The agency noted that most travellers are at low risk, but would be at higher risk if they're going to areas with limited access to clean water and food.

Tips from the CDC include packing water purification tablets to make your own safe water for drinking, and packing oral rehydration salts to use if you get sick with diarrhea.

It said only safe water should be used for drinking, preparing foods and drinks, washing hands and brushing teeth.

"Safe water is water that has been boiled or treated with water purification tablets or chlorine," the CDC said.

"Bottled water with unbroken seals and canned/bottled carbonated beverages are also safe to drink and use."

If travellers become sick with watery diarrhea, they should start drinking water mixed with oral rehydration salts immediately, and try to sip from the solution every few minutes, the CDC said.

They should also visit a clinic.

"The government of Dominican Republic has a national plan aimed at preventing and controlling cholera outbreak in the country," PHAC said in its notice posted Dec. 8.

"This response includes enhancing surveillance, water and sanitation services and education. They are also focusing on prompt and appropriate care for those who become infected."

The CDC added that if travellers become ill within five days of their return home from Haiti or the Dominican Republic, they should seek medical care right away and refrain from further travel until they're well.

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

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