The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday reported the nation’s first two cases of cholera this year, but added it has yet to determine how the patients were infected with the contagious disease.
According to the CDC, the two people infected with the disease are a 75-year-old couple who live in central Taiwan. The couple had never traveled overseas and mainly consumed vegetables which they grew themselves in addition to poultry and fish, the CDC said.
CDC Deputy-Director Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said the agency had collected food samples and other relevant items from the couple’s residence and that the Food and Drug Administration was testing them.
The couple are recuperating in hospital, he added.
According to Chou, the husband has high blood pressure, as well as diabetes, and both he and his wife earlier this month showed symptoms of the potentially fatal disease, which includes diarrhea and vomiting. The samples which were collected from their excrement were found to contain vibrio cholerae serogroup O1, a cholera virus.
Local health department officials added that other family members living with the couple were not found to have any symptoms of the illness. Examinations of 13 samples taken from kitchenware, ground water and water from their fish pond all showed negative results.
The CDC added that local health department officials had helped the family sterilize their home.
CDC statistics showed that a total of 10 cases of cholera were reported between 2009 and last year. The only patient who died of the illness was an 86-year-old woman who had also been diagnosed as having cancer, it said.
Chou said that the time between exposure to the illness and the first symptoms varied from between a couple of hours to five days.
The disease is mainly transmitted through feces and vomit from those infected, Chou said.
He said that the elderly as well as patients with chronic illnesses, cancer and weak immune systems are at a higher risk and he advised the public to drink boiled water while also paying attention to how food was preserved and cooked.