World Travel Watch: Cholera Outbreak in Haiti, Tsunami in Indonesia and More

World Travel Watch: Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

10.27.10 | 12:38 PM ET

World Travel Watch is a weekly report designed to help you make informed judgments about travel. Conditions can change overnight, so always make your own inquiries before you leave home. The U.S. State Department and embassies or consulates are good places to start.

Haiti: Cholera Outbreak Claims Almost 300 Lives

A cholera outbreak is occurring in the Artibonite region about 50 miles north of Port-au-Prince and has killed almost 300 people, but authorities said the number of new cases has diminished. The UN and aid agencies have increased prevention efforts in Port-au-Prince, where only a few cases have been reported and were determined to have been contracted elsewhere. Primary symptoms are severe diarrhea and dehydration. The disease can be deadly but it is also easily treated with rehydration solutions. Travelers are not at high risk so long as they take care to avoid eating or drinking contaminated food or water.

Indonesia: Tsunami and Volcanic Eruption Strike

The seismic “Ring of Fire” that encircles the Pacific and includes the Indonesian archipelago rumbled with an undersea earthquake and volcanic eruption 800 miles and just a few hours apart this week. Scientists had been predicting a major eruption of Java’s Mt. Merapi and warned that its biggest eruption in years could still occur in the coming days. The 7.7-magnitude earthquake that struck 13 miles beneath the sea off the coast of Sumatra sent a 10-foot tsunami onto the remote Mentawai islands, killing more than 100 and washing away hundreds of homes. The islands are 175 miles off Sumatra and a popular surfing area. The eruption was followed by at least 14 aftershocks, and some 500 people were still missing.

Italy: Naples Garbage Crisis Rises Again

A garbage crisis in Naples that has been going on for years has caused clashes in nearby Terzigno between police and protesters trying to prevent the dumping of Naples’ trash in their community about 12 miles east of the city. The protests have been going on for the past month but recently erupted in violence and resulted in some 2,400 tons of garbage piling up in the streets of Naples. The demonstrations also put on hold, at least temporarily, the opening of a second dump in Terzigno to take the city’s refuse. The proposed dump would be the largest in Europe but it lies within a half mile of the town and inside Vesuvius National Park, a 52-square-mile preserve of rare plants and wildlife and of course the historic volcano.

Nicaragua: Leptospirosis Outbreak in Leon, Chinandega, and Elsewhere

Health officials reported 16 deaths and 600 suspected cases of leptospirosis in the past month. The disease is spread through water contaminated with the urine of wild and domestic animals and is a potential risk for anyone who bathes, swims or is otherwise exposed to it in rivers, lakes or pools filled with fresh water. It can also be contracted by eating food that has been exposed to contaminated water, or brushing teeth with it. Most cases have been in the cities of Leon and Chinandega, but eight other departments have reported cases. Symptoms include fever with sudden headache, chills, severe muscle aches in the calves and thighs and conjunctivitis. The disease is difficult to diagnose and can last from three days to three weeks or longer.

United Kingdom: London Firefighters to Strike on Bonfire Night, Diwali

London’s firefighters plan to strike for two days Nov. 5-7, timing their walkout to coincide with the annual “Bonfire Night” holiday, and by coincidence, with the Hindu holiday of Diwali, which is celebrated with fireworks. Fire department statistics show that Bonfire Night produces five times as many small fires as usual and twice the number of alarms as a normal day. Prime Minister David Cameron called the decision to strike “cynical” and “reckless.”

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