A sick child triggered a cholera scare on board a Boeing 737 flight heading from Algeria to southern France on Sept. 5, AFP reported.
The child along with 147 passengers on an ASL Airlines flight were kept on the plane for an hour after it landed, the news agency said. The passengers were let off the plane after disinfecting their hands.
Officials in France’s Pyrenees-Orientales region told AFP that the child was “suspected of having cholera and was taken to hospital for tests” along with her mother and other relatives.
Algeria has experienced a cholera outbreak in August, the first time in decades, AFP noted. Two people died and dozens were infected, said Algerian officials.
Cholera is transmitted via infected fecal matter and often through contaminated food or water.
“An estimated 2.9 million cases and 95,000 deaths occur each year around the world,” says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe. Approximately one in 10 infected persons will have severe disease characterized by profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. In these people, rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours.”
In the United States, cholera was commonplace, but with the advent of modern water and sewage treatment, the risk has been mitigated, the CDC says. “However, U.S. travelers to areas with epidemic cholera (for example, parts of Africa, Asia, or Latin America) may be exposed to the cholera bacterium. In addition, travelers may bring contaminated seafood back to the U.S.; foodborne outbreaks of cholera have been caused by contaminated seafood brought into the U.S. by travelers,” the agency says.
Another Quarantined Plane in NYC
It comes just hours after an Emirates Airlines plane was held at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City after reports of dozens of sick passengers on board.
As many as 100 passengers “complained of illness, including cough, and some with fever,” said the CDC, reported USA Today.
Emirates Airlines, however, said that only around 10 people were sickened.
“Emirates can confirm that all passengers have disembarked from flight #EK203. All passengers were screened by local health authorities prior to disembarkation. 3 passengers & 7 crew were transferred to the hospital for further medical care and evaluation,” it said on Twitter. “All other #EK203 passengers were allowed to leave and clear customs. Our crew & on-ground staff extended full cooperation with the authorities during the onboard screenings & the aircraft has now been handed back to Emirates,” according to the company.
Eric Phillips, a spokesman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, said that in all, 19 people got sick.
“All the passengers are off and have been evaluated. 19 sick. 10 to hospital and 9 refused medical attention. Health officials are processing tests now to determine the cause. Symptoms still pointing to the flu,” he said on Twitter.