77 Cholera Cases Found in Mexico's Hidalgo State After Hurricanes

MEXICO CITY, Mexico

The Mexican government has confirmed a cholera outbreak in Hidalgo state in the wake of flooding from hurricanes Ingrid and Manuel last month. Seventy-seven cases have been registered, and one person has died from the disease as of October 4th, according to the Federal Ministry of Health.

Laboratory testing of more than 17,500 samples from patients with diarrheal infections across the country also detected two cases in the State of Mexico (Edomex).

Federal Health Minister Mercedes Juan said the outbreak is under control. Along with collecting samples, health officials are also cleaning and chlorinating public water supply systems.

Ministry of Health Undersecretary Ana María Tavares said the cholera cases were being treated as isolated cases, rather than an epidemic.

The strain of cholera is the same as the one currently circulating in Caribbean countries like Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

Hidalgo State Governor Francisco Olvera confirmed that the infection was coming from contaminated water, but said the source of the contamination was still unknown. Researchers are currently working to identify it, and the state is installing filters at water treatment plants to detect sources of infection, he said.

Other countries in the area have been put on alert about the risk of the disease spreading, especially in border areas.

El Salvador’s Minister of Vulnerability Jorge Meléndez said Central American countries would meet on October 8 to discuss joint measures to stop the spread of the disease.

Dengue fever, spread by mosquitoes, is another threat in Hidalgo. Six hundred thirty cases have been registered to date, compared to a total of approximately 100 in 2012, and Tavares predicted that there could be over 1,000 cases by the end of the year.

Arial spraying will be carried out in Sinaloa State to kill mosquito larvae in an effort to curb dengue.

In the wake of the storms, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú has criticized industrial society for abusing the environment.

He said telecommunications company Telmex – of which he is chairman -- was helping those affected by the hurricanes, as the company has an organization dedicated to disaster relief.

An alliance between environmental NGO WWF and the Carlos Slim Foundation has invested $35.9 million USD over five years for environmental projects, Milenio reported.

Environment Minster Juan José Guerra Abud said that Mexico is one of the countries hardest hit by the meteorological effects of global warming.

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