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In a follow-up on a report concerning imported cholera in South Korea, The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported (computer translated) the fourth case in a traveler to the Philippines since February.

Public domain image/Dartmouth http://remf.dartmouth.edu/images/bacteriaSEM/source/1.html
Public domain image/Dartmouth
http://remf.dartmouth.edu/images/bacteriaSEM/source/1.html

The most recent case, a 39-year-old Korean man, traveled to Manila and arrived back at Incheon International Airport on Wednesday, August 2.

A stool culture test was carried out at the Incheon airport quarantine station and V. cholerae O1 Hikojima was identified.

He is now receiving treatment at a hospital and remains in a stable condition, the KCDC said.

The three previous imported cholera cases were in travelers to Cebu, Philippines (February 20, February 24, June 16).

The KCDC advises travelers to the Philippines to strictly observe the rules for the prevention of infectious diseases such as proper hand washing and safe eating habits.

LISTEN: Cholera: The disease, the Yemen crisis and the vaccine

Cholera, caused by  the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, is an acute bacterial intestinal disease characterized by sudden onset, profuse watery stools (given the appearance as rice water stools because of flecks of mucus in water) due to a very potent enterotoxin.

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The enterotoxin leads to an extreme loss of fluid and electrolytes in the production of diarrhea. It has been noted that an untreated patient can lose his bodyweight in fluids in hours resulting in shock and death.

The bacteria are acquired through ingestion of contaminated water or food through a number of mechanisms. Water is usually contaminated by the feces of infected individuals. Drinking water can be contaminated at the source, during transport or during storage at home. Food can get contaminated by soiled hands, during preparation or while eating.

Beverages and ice prepared with contaminated water and fruits and vegetables washed with this water are other examples. Some outbreaks are linked to raw or undercooked seafood.

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