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25 on Flight to LAX Show Signs of Cholera

February 21, 1992|ERIC MALNIC and NORA ZAMICHOW | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Customs documents show that 320 of the 366 aboard the plane disembarked at Los Angeles International Airport. Of the 320, 211 listed final destinations in Los Angeles County.

By midday Thursday, health officials in Los Angeles County were able to contact 52 of the 211. Twenty-three of those contacted reported the gastrointestinal problems that can indicate onset of the disease, Fannin said.

Another 40 from the flight are believed to be scattered about the state--15 in Orange County, seven in San Diego County, three in Ventura County, three in San Francisco, two each in Monterey, San Mateo, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties, and one each in Santa Barbara, Riverside, Kern and Kings counties.

Officials in Orange County said at least two people there have shown symptoms of the disease, but reports from most of the other counties are not in.

The national Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta is attempting to track down seven more people in Nevada and two in Arizona, said Pete Wizer, spokesman for the state Department of Health Services in Sacramento. He said there may be a few passengers scattered throughout the United States.

Wizer said that among those who continued to other destinations, 37 are believed to have ended up in Japan and two in Canada. He said health officials in both countries have been notified through the World Health Organization.

Because of the growing epidemic in South America, which has infected an estimated 390,000 people during the last few years, health officials here have asked local hospitals to report any suspected cases of cholera, Fannin said.

"Last Sunday night, we got a call from Queen of Angels (Hospital)," she said. "They said they had a suspected case, a woman."

Fannin said a culture sample was taken from the woman and sent to the Health Services Department laboratory for analysis. Reports of three more victims in Los Angeles County--two women and the 70-year-old man--came in this week and three more samples were sent to the laboratory.

"On Wednesday, we got confirmation from the laboratory," she said. "Cholera."

Aerolineas Argentinas officials were not available for comment Thursday, but the airline issued a statement saying it was cooperating with health officials.

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