Cholera in Cuba
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More dengue fever reported in eastern Cuba

Posted on Monday, 08.20.12

More dengue fever reported in eastern Cuba

A vocational school has been turned into a makeshift hospital to handle

the overflow of Dengue patients.

By Juan O. Tamayo

An outbreak of dengue fever in eastern Cuba has reportedly forced

authorities to turn a vocational school into a hospital, while a city

racked by a cholera epidemic now also faces an increase in the mosquito

that carries dengue.

Medical personnel in the eastern city of Camaguey said the Maximo Gómez

vocational school for sciences is being used as a hospital, and a local

university building will be turned into a treatment center if the

outbreak spreads.

"We have a huge outbreak of dengue here, and if things continue to be

bad — we already are at the level of epidemic — I think they may

quarantine us," one local medical worker told relatives in Miami. "Don't

worry too much, but this is bad."

Cuba's Granma newspaper Monday reported that Camaguey faced a "critical

situation" because of the "elevated levels of infestation" from the

Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which carries dengue. But the article did not

use the word dengue and the provincial newspaper, Adelante, has made no

mention at all of the issue.

Dissident journalists have reported more than 400 cases and at least one

dengue death in Camaguey but officials have made few public details,

apparently concerned the news could damage Cuba's annual $2.5 billion

tourism industry.

The Granma report said the increase in mosquitoes in Camaguey was due to

recent rains, "human errors" and "an insufficient perception of the

risks" by residents who do not clean up deposits of stagnant water where

the mosquitoes breed.

Sixty percent of breeding sites detected are in private homes, while the

rest have been found around makeshift garbage dumps, broken water pipes

and clogged sewer systems, according to the newspaper.

Hundreds of state workers from other sectors have been mobilized to

combat the mosquito with chemicals and home visits, Granma added, even

though the use of inexperienced personnel may be "counter productive."

"House by house the struggle is won," one of the newspaper's headlines


Cuba has suffered regular rainy season outbreaks of dengue, a disease

also known as breakbone fever and whose symptoms include fever,

headaches and joint and muscle pains, since the 1970s.

Former ruler Fidel Castro accused the U.S. government of introducing the

dengue virus into Cuba, but independent researchers have concluded the

disease probably was brought back by Cubans who worked in Vietnam.

Outbreaks have been reported in Suriname, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto

Rico, Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia.

Another outbreak of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito was reported in the

eastern province of Granma, where 263 cases of cholera have been

officially confirmed since late June — the first outbreak of that

disease in Cuba in about 100 years.

The provincial newspaper, La Demajagua, reported Friday that authorities

were concerned with the spread of the mosquito over the past two weeks.

The story used the word dengue only once, deep in the body of the report.

The government has confirmed three cholera deaths, but dissident

journalists have reported up to 15 fatalities from the disease.

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