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5 People Aboard Aerolineas Argentina Flight 386 Contract Cholera

February 20, 1992

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Five people aboard a Valentine’s Day flight from South America to Los Angeles have contracted cholera and one man has died, a health official said Wednesday night.

Passengers aboard Aerolineas Argentina Flight 386, which originated in Buenos Aires, Argentina, stopped in Lima, Peru, then landed at Los Angeles International Airport last Friday were urged to contact the Los Angeles County Health Department.

About 336 passengers and crew members were aboard, with most saying their final destination was Los Angeles or Los Angeles County, said Dr. Shirley Fannin, director of the county’s disease control program.

She stressed that the disease is difficult to transmit from person to person, but that health authorities want to contact everyone from that flight as soon as possible.

″The only thing the victims had in common was the plane trip,″ Fannin said. ″We need specifics and maybe we can find out how the disease was spread.″

A 70-year-old man died within the past 24 hours, Fannin said.

Two of the victims were Hispanic and three were women. Four of the cases were reported in Los Angeles County and one in San Bernardino County.

Information on the victims was sketchy because incubation of the disease takes up to five days and information about the cases was still being coordinated. The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta has been notified.

Calls late Wednesday to the Los Angeles information office of Aerolineas Argentinas and to its ticket counter at the Los Angeles airport rang unanswered.

Cholera is a gastrointestinal tract disease. Symptoms include severe diarrhea and nausea that can lead to deadly dehydration.

It is caught by eating contaminated food, usually seafood that is not properly cooked, or from drinking unsanitary water.

A cholera epidemic has been present in South America for 1 1/2 years, Fannin said.

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