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Peru meets a menace.

The disease spread like wildfire, but the news spread even faster: cholera in Peru. It was the first cholera epidemic in the Americas in 50 years. Initially identified in Chimbote, a fishing village some 200 miles north of Lima, on January 31, by mid-March the epidemic had claimed more than 258 victims in Peru alone. Another 55,000 (Peruvians) were sick with the disease and 20 cases had been reported in Ecuador.

Although unable to pinpoint the source of the epidemic, the Peruvian Health Ministry in mid-February reported that more than 80 percent of the cholera victims at that time had eaten seafood before falling ill. Ministry officials also report that the disease was being transmitted through the consumption of sewer-contaminated water.

As the epidemic spread quickly from Chimbote south along the coastline to Lima and into the interior, the Peruvian government reacted swiftly to the crisis. President Alberto Fujimori declared a 120-day state of emergency for all cities affected by the epidemic and authorized an emergency fund of US$400 million to combat the disease. The Health Ministry is urging the population to cook fish thoroughly before eating it and boil all drinking water.

Meanwhile, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in Washington, D.C., is coordinating an international effort to combat the epidemic. A PAHO spokesman explained that although there is no reliable vaccine for the disease it poses little danger for tourists who take basic health precautions.
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Title Annotation:cholera epidemic in Chimbote, Peru
Author:Goethals, Henry
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Article Type:column
Date:Jan 1, 1991
Previous Article:The eye of the reserve.
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