First Cholera Death Reported in Dominican Republic

The first cholera fatality in the Dominican Republic was confirmed on Sunday, public health officials announced.

The first victim was a 53-year-old Haitian man named Renauld Francois. The local public health minister said Francois’ autopsy report seemed to confirm his death was from cholera, according to the Dominican newspaper Listin Diario. Cholera, spread by contaminated water and food, causes severe diarrhea and vomiting.

Public health officials said that laboratory tests on Francois are still being analyzed, but the autopsy revealed “his intestines were filled with watery fecal matter compatible with the illness,” the newspaper reported.

Francois died last Friday at home in the town of Higüey, near the tourist province of La Altagracia in the eastern edge of the country. The first reported case of cholera in the Dominican Republic, announced last November, was also in Higüey.

Dominican public health authorities have confirmed 200 cases of cholera in the country, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, where 4,000 people have died of the disease since it first made an appearance on the island last October. While the cases in Haiti seem to be ebbing, the cases in the tourist-dependent Dominican Republic keeps climbing – there have been 53 cases so far this month, and 30 cases in December, the newspaper reported.

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The Dominican health officials said they were stepping up their efforts to control cholera in the area where Francois lived, and again urged anyone with symptoms to seek immediate medical attention.

Francois, a father of nine, worked in the construction industry in the city of San Francisco de Macorís, and hadn’t been to Haiti in 9 years, one of sons told reporters.

Efe contributed to this report.

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