GUAM BANS FRESH FISH FROM MARSHALLS

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By Adrienne Loerzel

HAGATNA, Guam (December 30, 2000 - Pacific Daily News)---Residents can’t bring some fresh fish and processed agricultural products here from the Marshall Islands because of a cholera outbreak.

The Department of Public Health and Social Services announced the ban yesterday. Unprocessed fish and agricultural and fish products that have been individually processed may not be imported from the Marshalls, the department said.

The ban stems from a cholera outbreak on Ebeye, an island in Kwajalein atoll with about 10,000 residents. Health officials from the Marshalls have said that more than 100 people have been hospitalized with cholera since December 18.

Five people have died from the diarrheal disease, which often is spread through contaminated water or food. The bacterial disease causes diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration, which may be fatal if it is not treated quickly.

Though no cholera cases have been reported on Guam recently, public health officials are taking steps to prevent an outbreak of the disease here, epidemiologist Dr. Robert Haddock said.

A ban on fresh fish and some other food products from Pohnpei remains in place because of a cholera outbreak on that island, public health officials said.

Pohnpei’s outbreak began in April. More than 3,000 residents have had cholera on the island, where 19 people died from the disease.

Government officials in the Marshalls received some vaccines and other supplies from Pohnpei to help with their outbreak.

The government of the Marshalls has also restricted travel from Ebeye in an effort to contain the disease.

According to the Guam public health alert, travel from the Marshalls to Guam won’t be restricted, but any sick traveler from the Marshalls may be held for clearance upon arrival here.

"Persons who are ill upon arrival will be held for clearance by a public health officer or transported to a hospital emergency room as the situation warrants," the public health alert said.

Local public health officials are also asking travelers to the Marshall Islands to avoid eating uncooked food and to drink bottled water while on the islands.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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