Sick airline passenger in Miami may have cholera

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— Doctors were trying to determine Friday whether an American Airlines passenger who became ill on a flight from the Dominican Republic to Miami had cholera, but authorities stressed the disease is hard to spread through contact.

Airline spokesman Tim Smith said the adult male became ill during the flight Thursday evening and was hospitalized upon arrival. Emergency medical services met the flight and transported the patient to Jackson Memorial Hospital. County health care officials said he was vomiting and experiencing diarrhea on the plane but cautioned that the threat to other passengers was minimal.

"The risk of transmitting cholera from one person to another is very low," said Fermin Leguen, the county's chief physician and director of epidemiology.

Normally, it is transmitted through an infected water supply.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said the man was a doctor who had been treating cholera patients. It was unclear where he had been working, but Haiti, a neighbor of the Dominican Republic, has suffered a recent cholera epidemic, with more than 400,000 people expected to contract the disease. Some cases have also been identified in the Dominican Republic.

Leguen said it would take several days to confirm whether the individual did have cholera.

Earlier this month, Florida confirmed its first case of cholera linked to the Haitian outbreak. State health officials said a Collier County woman became ill after visiting family along Haiti's rural Artibonite River, where the outbreak began last month. She has since recovered.

Leguen said the most important point was for travelers to those countries to frequently wash their hands and drink from safe water supplies.

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Associated Press writer Christine Armario contributed to this report.

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