An outbreak of cholera at a jail in Bani, the capital town of the Peravia Province, Dominican Republic, has resulted in 20 inmates becoming ill and two deaths, according to a Listín Diario report (computer translated).

Dominican Republic/CIA
Dominican Republic/CIA

Approximately two weeks ago, 20 inmates in the public jail at Bani presented with symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting. At least patients were laboratory-confirmed for Vibrio cholerae.

Increased control measures, including food safety and water chlorination, have been put in place at the jail and no new cases have been reported in eight days.

Cholera is a bacterial disease that is most often spread by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. Water is contaminated by the feces (stool) of an infected person or by untreated sewage. Food may be contaminated by using water containing cholera bacteria or by a person whose hands are contaminated with the cholera bacteria.

Often people have mild illness or no symptoms. However, about one in 20 (5%) infected people will have severe disease characterized by profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. In these people, rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours.