Venezuelan Cholera Cases Climb to 239

The Venezuelan Health Ministry said the number of cholera cases in the country rose to 239 a week after hundreds of Venezuelans became ill at a wedding in the Dominican Republic last week.

The ministry said 153 of the cases are asymptomatic and the patients are only being treated to prevent the spread of the disease.

About 450 Venezuelans attended a lavish wedding last week at the exclusive Casa de Campo resort in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Officials said contaminated lobster bought in a town bordering Haiti sickened dozens of guests with cholera.

Dominican Public Health Minister Bautista Rojas has said the lobster was not well cooked.

Cholera has killed over 4,000 people and sickened over 200,000 in Haiti and has killed one person and sickened over 200 in the Dominican Republic, a tourist-dependent country that has gone into alarm-mode since cases started popping up two months ago. Cholera, spread through contaminated water, causes severe diarreah and vomiting spells and could be fatal if left untreated.

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Venezuelan Health Minister Eugenia Sader said everyone in the country who had become infected had attended the Dominican wedding.

The Dominican Republic, whose economy is largely fueled by its tourism industry, has taken sweeping measures to try and contain the disease – even going so far as deporting thousands of Haitians from the country.

The Haitians living in the country have accused its government of using cholera as a pretext for a mass crackdown.

Efe and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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