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5 stricken with cholera; tainted airline food cited

U.S. health authorities were searching on Thursday for passengers of an Argentine airliner after five were treated for cholera and one died of the disease.

They apparently got the disease from food _ vegetables, ham, chicken, beef brochette and apple pie _ brought aboard the Argentine jet at a stopover in Lima, Peru, said a spokesman for the airline Aerolineas Argentinas.

Cholera is typically spread by contaminated water or seafood but can be spread by fruits and vegetables.

The passengers arrived in Los Angeles Feb. 14 on Aerolineas Argentinas Flight 386 from Buenos Aires, with the stopover in Lima.

Within four days, a 70-year-old male passenger developed cholera and died, said Dr. Shirley Fannin, director of disease control programs in Los Angeles County. She did not know whether cholera was the sole cause of his death.

She said four others had been treated for the bacterial disease, which causes diarrhea and vomiting.

The airline had stopped taking on food at Lima a year ago because of the cholera risk, officials said, but resumed doing so in November because it believed the risk had subsided. The Latin American epidemic began in Peru in January 1991 and spread to almost every country in the region.

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