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V. cholerae in Traveler from Haiti to Canada | CDC EID

EID Journal Home > Volume 17, Number 6–June 2011

Volume 17, Number 6–June 2011
Vibrio cholerae in Traveler from Haiti to Canada
Matthew W. Gilmour, Valérie Martel-Laferrière, Simon Lévesque, Christiane Gaudreau, Sadjia Bekal, Céline Nadon, and Anne-Marie Bourgault
Author affiliations: Public Health Agency of Canada, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (M.W. Gilmour, C. Nadon); Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada (V. Martel-Laferrière, C. Gaudreau, A.-M. Bourgault); and Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec (S. Lévesque, S. Bekal, A.-M. Bourgault)

Suggested citation for this article

To the Editor: A nationwide outbreak of cholera caused by Vibrio cholerae O1 serotype Ogawa began in Haiti in October 2010 and has since resulted in >200,000 illnesses and 4,000 deaths (1). Additional cases of cholera attributed to the outbreak strain have subsequently been reported in the neighboring Dominican Republic and in Florida and New Jersey in the United States. In these instances, illness was related to travel to Haiti or consumption of contaminated water on the island of Hispaniola (which is shared by Haiti and Dominican Republic).

In Canada, the province of Québec has a large Haitian immigrant population. In early November 2010, the Québec public health authorities provided clinicians and laboratories with recommendations regarding the diagnosis of V. cholerae infections. We report a case of V. cholerae O1 serotype Ogawa in Canada related to the outbreak in Haiti. It was diagnosed in Montréal, Québec, on January 5, 2011.

A 49-year-old Canadian woman traveled to Haiti with her 5 brothers and sisters during December 22–29, 2010, to attend her mother's funeral. While in Haiti, they stayed with family members. She came to the emergency department of the Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal on January 1, 2011, with abdominal cramps and diarrhea of moderate intensity that had started on December 29, the day she returned from Haiti. The patient was asthenic, but vital signs and results of a physical examination were normal. A complete blood count, levels of serum electrolytes and serum creatinine, and results of liver function tests were within reference ranges. A fecal sample was submitted and the patient received intravenous fluids and 1 dose (300 mg) of doxycycline. She improved rapidly and was discharged on January 3. The patient returned to the outpatient clinic on January 7, and she had recovered from her illness. Control fecal specimens obtained on January 9 and 10 were negative for V. cholerae. Family members that traveled with her did not get ill, and there were no secondary cases among her family members in Montréal.

The fecal culture of the sample provided on December 29 contained V. cholerae. The isolate was confirmed as toxigenic V. cholerae serogroup O1, serotype Ogawa, biotype El Tor, and matched the Haiti outbreak strain when tested by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Antimicrobial drug susceptibility testing was performed by continuous gradient dilution (Etest; AB Biodisk, Solna, Sweden), and results were interpreted according to standard criteria (2). The strain was susceptible to azithromycin (0.25 mg/L), ciprofloxacin (0.5 mg/L), and tetracycline (1 mg/L) and resistant to trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (>32/608 mg/L).

Cases of diagnosed cholera are rare in Canada (0–3 laboratory-confirmed isolations of serogroup O1 and O139 V. cholerae per year (3). All cases in Canada have been associated with travel to cholera-endemic areas, including Africa and Southeast Asia. Monitoring of cholera in Canada is completed through the National Notifiable Diseases Program and through the public health laboratory network. Biochemical identification, serotyping, and PFGE testing are performed on all suspected V. cholerae isolates. Confirmed isolations of a serogroup O1 or O139 V. cholerae strain that produces cholera toxin are also reported through the International Health Regulations focal point.

Whole genome sequencing has been completed for several isolates to investigate the origin of the Haiti cholera outbreak (4,5). However, PFGE remains one of the primary tools for defining the outbreak strain (4). The highly standardized methods of PulseNet International for generating, analyzing, and comparing PFGE patterns are used worldwide to track the temporal and geographic distribution of V. cholerae (6,7).

V. cholerae in Traveler from Haiti to Canada | CDC EID

Suggested Citation for this Article
Gilmour MW, Martel-Laferrière V, Lévesque S, Gaudreau C, Bekal S, Nadon C, et al. Vibrio cholerae in traveler from Haiti to Canada [letter]. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2011 Jun [date cited].

DOI: 10.3201/eid1706.110161

Comments to the Authors
Please use the form below to submit correspondence to the authors or contact them at the following address:

Matthew W. Gilmour, National Microbiology Laboratory, Public Health Agency of Canada, 1015 Arlington St, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3E 3R2, Canada
; email:

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