Jamaica to get results on suspected water-borne disease Tuesday

BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT
Observer staff reporter
hibbertk@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, June 19, 2017

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ALTHOUGH Chief Medical Officer Dr Winston De La Haye is insisting that the form of vibrio cholerae identified in a patient's blood is not the deadly cholera widely known, the country will have to wait until Tuesday for confirmation from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad.

In the meantime, Dr De La Haye is urging citizens to remain calm and exercise proper hygienic care.

“It is not the 'cholera cholera' as we know it to be,” Dr De La Haye told the Jamaica Observer yesterday. “During a blood sample from the patient we came up with biochemical evidence of a form of vibrio cholerae. It is not the one responsible for the cholera we know about.

“The definitive evidence will come from Caribbean Public Health Agency in Trinidad on Tuesday,” he continued. “We are confident it is not the deadly form and based on what we told CARPHA, and the history of the patient, they, too, are convinced it is not the cholera we know.”

He added: “The people around him have no diarrhoea. There are no symptoms from his family members. Importantly, the man has no travel history and he does not live near any coastal area to suggest he may have come in contact with an infected person at sea or contracted it from the water, as you know it is water-borne. He has done a number of surgical procedures and is now stable in hospital and needs to be monitored as he is being managed with isolation. But there is no significant cause for concern.”

The chief medical officer is urging the public to be careful when preparing food, as the main mode of transmission of cholera is through the faecal-oral route.

“While we don't know how the bacteria got in the patient's blood, it usually passes when you come in contact with faecal particles and put your hand to your mouth. That's why it is important to wash your fruits and vegetables properly as water used for irrigation may be untreated,” he said.

Dr De La Haye also pointed out that cholera, being a water-borne disease, should never be overlooked and highlighted that improperly cooked shell fish, as well as having an open wound and wading in water infested with sewage, are other modes of transmission.

“With the potential of infectious diseases around, it is important that you prepare your food properly, wash your food properly, cook your food properly. This process will eliminate the possibility of contracting certain infectious diseases,” he said.

According to the World Health Organization, cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium vibrio cholerae. Researchers have estimated that each year there are 1.3 to 4 million cases of cholera, and 21,000 to 143,000 deaths worldwide due to the disease.

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