HEALTH

Cholera Reaches New York, Kills Two Children in Dominican Republic

Claudine holds a Barbie doll next to the port in Port-du-Paix, Haiti, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Claudine holds a Barbie doll next to the port in Port-du-Paix, Haiti, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)  (AP2011)

The cholera outbreak that originated in Haiti has now made its way to New York City – thanks to a lavish Dominican wedding that seems to keep making headlines.

New York City officials confirmed that three New Yorkers contracted cholera while attending a 500-guest wedding at an exclusive Casa de Campo resort. The wedding served contaminated lobster bought near the Haitian border. Dominican officials have said the lobster was not cooked properly.

The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, where thousands have died from the disease.

A medical epidemiologist for the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene told The New York Times Saturday that all three people who were infected last month have recovered.

The water-borne disease, which causes severe bouts of diarrhea and vomiting, could be fatal if left untreated.

Dr. Sharon Balter says the city typically sees an average of one cholera case per year. In less developed Haiti, where clean water is tough to come by and medical care is spotty, more than 4,000 people have died from the disease and hundreds of thousands of others have been sickened by it since it first appeared in the country in October.

In the Dominican Republic, the death toll rose to three this past weekend after two Haitian children died during a supposed religious ritual, authorities said. Dominican health care officials said a pastor urged the kid’s parents to bring them to his church, where he said he could cure them with a ceremony, rather than take them to the hospital.

Four other children diagnosed with the disease were rescued from the church, which is in a rural community in Puerto Plata, north of Santo Domingo, officials said. The pastor, known only as “The Prophet,” remains on the run, said a statement from the Health Ministry.

Authorities said the pastor talked six parents to bring six children to him for a ceremony to cure them after they showed symptoms of cholera. Authorities did not release details about the ceremony but said it did not involve proper medical treatment.

The pastor locked the children inside his church Monday and tried to revive the two victims, age 3 and 9, through a ritual, officials said. He later fled the church.

Emilia Jean, mother of the 9-year-old, told authorities her son had complained of severe stomach pains.

It is unclear what the source of cholera was in this case. Health officials have ordered lab tests on water samples from a nearby river where the pastor often performed rites.

Officials in the Dominican Republic, whose economy relies heavily on its strong tourism industry, have deported hundreds Haitian migrants amid a health scare.

About 300 cholera cases have been confirmed in the Dominican Republic.

Based on reporting from The Associated Press.

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