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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

No Spread Of Cholera Expected

Russian health officials said Thursday that an outbreak of cholera in southern Russia that has killed 10 people and infected 338 was not likely to spread to Moscow.


By Thursday, 208 people in the Caucasus republic of Dagestan had fallen ill and 130 tested positive for cholera, in the worst flare-up of the diseases in the former Soviet Union since the 1970s, Deputy Health Minister Vasily Agapov told a press conference.


But Agapov said widespread testing had already slowed down the spread. Only two or three new cases were being reported each day, down from a dozen per day last month, he said.


The cholera virus, which officials say was brought to Dagestan by Moslem pilgrims returning from Saudi Arabia last month, quickly spread despite attempts by local officials to keep affected villages in quarantine.


In an unrelated case, three Russians fell ill with cholera and five tested positive in Moscow earlier this week, one day after their return from war-ridden Rwanda.


Cholera, which breaks out in dozens of countries each summer, can spread through water and personal contact. The virus can suddenly cause heavy diarrhea as late as five days after the infection, and without treatment, patients may die from dehydration within hours.


Although Moscow is a popular destination for fruit traders from Dagestan, one of whom died of complications from cholera in a Moscow hospital last month, health officials said that the capital was not at risk.


Mikhail Narkevich, the Health Ministry's top official on infectious diseases, said that it was unlikely that cholera could spread through Moscow's water pipes because the quality of the city's drinking water was so high.


Fruit imported from Dagestan can carry the virus if they are washed in tainted water but the virus is unlikely to survive the trip to Moscow, Narkevich said.


Commenting on the possibility that infected Dagestanis might bring the disease to Moscow, Agapov said that efforts to restrict travel from Dagestan were not very effective because infected people can appear completely healthy when they leave and fall ill five days later.


The eight cholera patients from Rwanda were part of a group of 30 Russian residents who flew into Moscow from Zaire over the weekend. They were tested after physicians at the airport noticed that one child was ill.


Two Dagestanis and one Danish tourist returning from India were hospitalized in the capital with cholera last month, but Agapov said they infected noone. One of the two Dagestanis died.