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163 new cholera cases in Cuba


Measles outbreak tied to Texas megachurch sickens 21


*   163, new cholera in Cubs


The Associated Press

21 hours ago

Cuba has reported a cholera outbreak to international health monitors, with 163 new cases this year associated with three provinces. According to a bulletin by the Pan American Health Organization, island authorities reported on Aug. 23 that the cases were linked to Havana, Santiago and Camaguey provinces.  Patients who contracted the waterborne disease included 12 travelers from European and Latin American nations. There were no reported fatalities.

In Havana, the outbreak was traced to two food distribution centers, where corrective measures were taken to combat the disease.


Cuban state media announced last summer that cholera had sickened 417 people and killed three. It had been unheard of on the island for years. In January there was another report of 51 cases in Havana.  There has been no word since then about the disease in official media such as Communist Party newspaper Granma.  But state television and posters in clinics have been carrying reminders of the importance of good hygiene lately, as they typically do during the country's hot and humid tropical summers, when diarrheic diseases increase.  Last week the United States issued a travel alert for Cuba due to cholera.  Cholera causes severe dehydration that can be fatal, but it is treatable if detected in time.

Cuban medical workers have played an important role in treating the disease in nearby Haiti, where cholera has killed thousands in recent years.



 *   Measles


An outbreak of measles tied to a Texas megachurch where ministers have questioned vaccination has sickened at least 21 people, including a 4-month-old infant -- and it’s expected to grow, state and federal health officials said.

“There’s likely a lot more susceptible people,” said Dr. Jane Seward, the deputy director for the viral diseases division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Sixteen people -- nine children and seven adults -- ranging in age from 4 months to 44 years had come down with the highly contagious virus in Tarrant County, Texas, as of Monday. Another five cases are part of the outbreak in nearby Denton County. All of the cases are linked to the Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas, where a visitor who’d traveled to Indonesia became infected with measles – and then returned to the U.S., spreading it to the largely unvaccinated church community, said Russell Jones, the Texas state epidemiologist. 


“We have a pocket of people that weren’t immunized,” said Jones, noting that vaccination rates typically hover above the 98 percent range in his county.  Infections spread to the congregation, the staff and a day care center at Eagle Mountain International.

At least 21 people are part of a growing measles outbreak linked to Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas, health officials said. This Center for Disease Control and Prevention photo depicts the characteristic rash of measles after three days of infection. The ill people were all linked to the church that is a division of Kenneth Copeland Ministries. That group advocates faith-healing and advises people to “first seek the Wisdom of God” and then appropriate medical attention in matters of health, according to an online statement. Terri Pearsons, a senior pastor of Eagle Mountain International Church and Copeland’s daughter, previously said she had concerns about possible ties between early childhood vaccines and autism, a position that has been refuted by health officials.

In the wake of the measles outbreak, however, Pearsons has urged followers to get vaccinated and the church has held several vaccination clinics, according to its website. Health officials said the church administration has been very cooperative in the outbreak investigation. Pearsons did not return an email from NBC News seeking comment. 

“We continue to follow up on pending and confirmed cases to help in any way we can to keep the outbreak contained,” a church statement said. “We ask that others join us in prayers over this outbreak.”  Health authorities notified the church of the first cases on Aug. 14; Texas state health officials issued a warning about the outbreak on Aug. 16. In the meantime, hundreds -- perhaps more than 1,000 -- contacts could have been affected by potentially infected people, Seward said.  “In this community, these cases so far are all in people who refused vaccination for themselves and their children,” she added.  Of the 16 cases in Tarrant County, 11 did not have any measles vaccination. The others may have had at least one measles vaccination, but they couldn’t produce documentation, county officials said.

The outbreak raises to 159 the total number of confirmed measles cases in the U.S. this year. The disease that once killed 500 people a year in the U.S. and hospitalized 48,000 had been considered virtually eradicated after a vaccine introduced in 1963. Cases now show up typically when an unvaccinated person contracts the disease abroad and spreads it upon return to the U.S. 


Five previous cases in Texas this year were far higher than typical years, but don’t appear to be related to the current outbreak, state officials said.  Measles is so contagious that 90 percent of people who are not immune to the disease or vaccinated against it will get sick, health officials warned. It is a respiratory disease spread by sneezing or coughing. The virus can live in the air or on infected surfaces for up to two hours. Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and sore throat, plus a characteristic red rash that starts on the face or hairline and spreads to the rest of the body. It can take eight days to two weeks after exposure before an infected person develops symptoms.  Health officials recommend that children receive a Measles/Mumps/Rubella -- MMR -- vaccine at age 12 months and again at 4 to 6 years. Unless adults have previously had measles or are immunized, health officials say they should be vaccinated.  “We just want people to be aware and well-informed about the risks of the disease, especially when they travel abroad,” Seward said.

Edited by allabord4jah
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