Doctor Falls Ill During Flight From Santo Domingo to Miami; Cholera Suspected

11/29/2010 // West Palm Beach, FL, US // Sandra Quinlan // Sandra Quinlan

Miami, FL—Tests are being conducted to determine whether a man who began experiencing cholera-like symptoms during an American Airlines flight had indeed been infected with cholera. Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the man, a doctor who had spent time treating cholera patients in Haiti, fell ill during a flight from the neighboring Dominican Republic to Miami, Fla., according to a Nov. 27, 2010 CBS4 report.

Health officials and emergency medical personnel met the man at Miami International Airport (MIA) and rushed him to an area hospital to be treated. He was aboard American Airlines flight 778 from Santo Domingo.

Dr. Fermin Leguen of the Miami-Dade Health Department said unidentified doctor’s symptoms were similar to those exhibited by cholera patients, such as nausea, diarrhea and dehydration.

Dr. Leguen, an epidemiologist, said that the test results are pending to determine whether the man has the virus, which is generally spread through contaminated food or water.

Tim Smith, a spokesperson for American Airlines in Dallas, contended, “We contacted our staff physicians from the cockpit and they said the plane should be met by EMS… We contacted the Centers for Disease Control and were assured that cholera is not contagious under normal circumstances.”

Smith noted, “The aircraft was taken out of service overnight and underwent a thorough sanitizing of the lavatories and passenger areas.”

In Haiti, cholera has claimed the lives of approximately 2,000 people and sent some 30,000 others to hospitals.

Nevertheless, Dr. Leguen maintained, “Transmission of cholera from person to person is very rare.” He explained that unless someone came into contact with an infected individual’s feces or vomit, and then preceded to put their hand to their mouth, their chances of becoming infected with the disease should be quite low.

Health Department authorities explained that since South Florida’s water supply is safe and sanitation is adequate, there is little to no way that a cholera outbreak could hit the area.

Legal News Reporter: Sandra Quinlan.

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