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FOR RELEASE: April 13, 2001
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Outbreak of respiratory illness in travelers returning from Acapulco

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is coordinating a nationwide investigation of an outbreak of acute respiratory illness among U.S. travelers returning from Acapulco, Mexico, during March. The CDC and state health departments have continued to receive information about several groups of college students who have become ill after vacationing in Acapulco. Most of the students stayed at or visited the Calinda Beach Hotel in Acapulco.

As of April 9, 37 colleges in 18 states and the District of Columbia have reported 221 students who returned to the United States from Acapulco with an acute febrile respiratory illness. Laboratory tests indicate that the illness is probably histoplasmosis. Histoplasmosis is a disease caused by a fungus and primarily affects the lungs. Symptoms of histoplasmosis include high fever, headache, dry cough, and chills. The disease is not transmitted from an infected person to someone else. The fungus is found in the soil and infection is caused by inhalation of the airborne Histoplasma spores.

U.S. travelers to Acapulco during March, especially students who visited or stayed at the Calinda Beach Hotel, should consult their primary health care professionals if symptoms develop.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is working with the CDC to interview several Oklahomans from various universities with recent travel to Acapulco. Oklahomans with respiratory illness and recent travel to Acapulco could have illness related to this outbreak and can contact an epidemiologist with the Communicable Disease Division of the OSDH at (405) 271-4060.

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