Cholera in Cuba
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Santiago de Cuba: Epidemiological Crisis or Child’s Play

Santiago de Cuba: Epidemiological Crisis or Child's Play

November 25, 2012

Janis Hernandez

HAVANA TIMES — This morning, from my window I heard a group of young

children playing on the sidewalk shouting "cholera's goin' 'round,

cholera's goin' 'round… I'm gonna inject you. Better wash your hands."

Of course those kids have no real idea of the seriousness of the

situation, for them it's just a game. They're only imitating what they

see and hear every day. They reproduce in their antics the words they

hear from grown-ups in their homes and at school.

They also represent what is taking place at the entryways of all public

establishments, where it's mandatory for people to wash their hands with

soap and water, then with bleach, and finally wipe their feet on a mat

soaked in chlorine or formaldehyde.

What has actually been happening is that for three weeks, in the city of

Santiago de Cuba and those towns closest to it, public health security

measures have intensified to deal with outbreaks of the diseases

suffered in these communities.

The strange thing is that officially no statements have been made by

medical or health care authorities or others involved with this matter.

Notwithstanding, access to all public places (schools. offices,

warehouses, markets, shops, candy stores, clinics, etc.) all require

people to go through that obligatory ritual of washing their hands with

soap and chlorinated water, and then wiping their feet on a mat.

The same applies to the terminals when leaving or returning through

various means of transport. In addition, streets and houses are being

fumigated while an army of medical students are going from house to

house almost daily asking if anyone has experienced fever, vomiting or

diarrhea.

Public speculation is increasing as people talk about alarming numbers

of cases of cholera, dengue, leptospirosis, swine fever and other

infectious diseases. The truth is that these comments are based on the

number of patients admitted with these diagnoses in many hospital wards

authorized to attend them.

The authorities have prohibited people from raising pigs in their homes,

giving the owners an ultimatum of getting them out of the city or

sacrificing them. Likewise, there are now prohibitions on self-employed

vendors in kiosks from selling light snacks, beverages (including soft

drinks), milkshakes, coffee or anything else containing water.

People's questions, prejudices and speculation are all growing.

Officially, any report on the situation is still being kept in locked

draws, but it's undeniable that Santiago is suffering from an

epidemiological crisis. Some people are saying the city should be

declared in quarantine.

But secrecy is being maintained as usual, and the situation will only be

made public when some foreign media source publishes the death toll.

In the meantime, in the games of innocent children, they shout

"cholera's goin' 'round, cholera's goin' 'round… better wash your hands."

http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=82736

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