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Venezuela reports 37 cholera cases

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The 37 were among 452 people attending a family party in the Dominican Republic
  • The health minister said all 37 were treated and are in stable condition
  • A Haitian man died this week of cholera in the Dominican Republic
  • Almost 4,000 people have died in Haiti, where the outbreak started

(CNN) -- Venezuela's health minister said Thursday that 37 people have been treated for cholera in the South American nation, state-run media said.

The confirmed cases were among a group of 452 people who attended a family gathering in the Dominican Republic, said Eugenia Sader, Venezuela's minister of health. All 37 people were treated and are doing well, she said in a news conference carried on VTV.

Others who attended the party were urged to get tested for the intestinal disease, which can prove fatal within hours if left untreated. Sader said the cholera patients were stable and were being discharged from the hospital.

Sader said in October, when the cholera outbreak erupted in Haiti, that the last case of cholera in Venezuela was reported in 1991.

In addition to the 37 cases in Venezuela, 12 others who attended the family party are in the Dominican Republic; one in Mexico; two in Madrid, Spain; and one in Boston.

Almost 4,000 people have died in Haiti from cholera and almost 200,000 have been sickened.

The Dominican Republic has reported 244 cases, the first fatal one this week. A man of Haitian descent died Sunday in the province of Altagracia.

Cholera, an intestinal infection caused by ingestion of bacteria-contaminated food or water, causes watery diarrhea and vomiting, which can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if not treated promptly. About 80 percent of cases can be cured by rehydrating the patient, according to the World Health Organization.

The disease is one of the leading causes of death in the world, particularly in developing countries. There are an estimated 3 million to 5 million cholera cases and 100,000 to 120,000 deaths every year worldwide, the health agency says.

However, it is easily preventable and not considered a serious threat in nations with proper water and sanitation services.