Dr Manny's Notes

Despite Reports, Dominican Republic Is Still Safe

Tropical beach View of the crystalline sea from a tropical beach  (Photo by Angel Bocalandro/Cover/Getty Images)

Tropical beach View of the crystalline sea from a tropical beach (Photo by Angel Bocalandro/Cover/Getty Images)  (Getty Images)

Cholera is not out of control in the Dominican Republic. To put it clearly: The cholera problem in the island nation of Hispaniola is primarily located in Haiti.

As it currently stands, the chaos both physically and medically since the earthquake in January of 2010 continues to create an environment in Haiti where cholera is still able to spread quite easily. In the Dominican Republic, however, there is a significant surveillance of the disease, and as of late, proper health measures have been instituted by the country’s Department of Health to prevent any significant outbreaks.

So far, the Dominican government has been diligent about testing suspected cases of cholera and has taken steps to limit border crossings into and out of Haiti. In addition to that, they have also lined the border with chlorine-soaked mats and chlorinated the water supply, according to Fox News Latino.

Most recently, the Dominican government pledged to invest $32 million to fight cholera, and another $45 million for other health plans and to subsidize hospitals.

However, despite the government’s best efforts to control the spread of cholera, there have been recent reports that members of a wedding party in the Dominican Republic got sick from ingesting food at an internationally renowned resort.

Many friends of mine asked me if they should cancel their trips to the Caribbean. And my answer was overwhelmingly “no.”

People got sick at that wedding because seafood was obtained at the border very close to some rivers that flow from Haiti. Predictably, that particular seafood was contaminated.

This isolated incident was created by the individuals who were managing the food. It had no relevance to the food supply, which is currently very healthy and very safe in the entire island of the Dominican Republic.

Remember, all countries that share a border with nations suffering health crises may see some isolated incidents. Just take a look at some of the issues that we have at the U.S.-Mexico border.
And keep in mind that this is a perfect year to travel, especially because of the harsh winter that we’ve been having. I know I could certainly use a break.

A healthy vacation in the Caribbean far outweighs one isolated news story that will have no effect on your overall health. You could stay here and continue to suffer through the snow, sleet and rain, or you could hop on a plane and enjoy a gorgeous Caribbean beach where you can exercise, swim and eat great natural foods.

I promise you, as long as you stay smart, drink purified water and only eat properly cooked foods – which you should be doing anyway – your risk of contracting cholera is miniscule.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.