The Dominican Republic Ministry of Health last week issued a nationwide alert and posted disinfecting equipment at Haiti border crossings following confirmation of the country's first case of cholera in more than 50 years.

But the country also took steps late last week to assure visitors that the nation has the necessary infrastructure in place to prevent an outbreak like the one that has occurred in Haiti, its neighbor on the island of Hispaniola.

On Thursday afternoon, the country's tourism ministry reported that the victim, a 32-year-old Haitian national who was returning to his job in the D.R. after visiting family in Haiti, had been diagnosed and successfully treated in a Dominican hospital.

"The D.R. has advanced water and sewage systems, modern communications and technology systems, advanced health and medical facilities and institutions, excellent transportation systems and well-developed infrastructure with a strong culture of hygiene that makes the incidence of cholera or spread of the disease in the country highly unlikely," the tourism ministry said in a statement.

With the epidemic in Haiti soaring past 1,100 deaths since the first case of cholera was detected in late October, the region is on edge and taking no chances.

So far, tourism bookings remain intact in the Dominican Republic, which welcomed more than 3.5 million visitors through September, a 7.2% increase over the same period in 2009.

Inter Island Tours/Cheap Caribbean reported no cancellations or inquiries. "In fact, we have seen a surge in Punta Cana sales over the past seven days," said Greg Thorne, vice president.

Apple Vacations reported "a few curious calls from passengers" but no cancellations.

"We currently have thousands of vacationers in the Dominican Republic, and thousands more are on their way next week," said Tim Mullen, co-president. "Our clients' health and safety are our top priority, and we are monitoring the situation."

The stakes are high for AM-Resorts, which has 10 properties and 3,300 rooms in the Dominican Republic.

"We are closely monitoring news regarding cholera cases," said Kevin Wojciechowski, AMResorts' vice president of sales and marketing. "None of our Dominican Republic properties, staff or guests has been affected. The resorts continue to implement very thorough cleanliness practices to ensure food and drinking water safety."

Cholera is generally transmitted through the consumption of contaminated drinking water or food.

Wojciechowski said AMResorts' guests are served only purified bottled water, which is standard practice at most resorts throughout the Caribbean.

Riu Hotels & Resorts reported that health authorities in the D.R. initiated sanitary precautions for hotels more than a month ago, including requiring more chlorine in swimming pools and disinfecting all vegetables.


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