By Irina Pino

HAVANA TIMES – I never thought that I would get scabies, but we humans still haven’t developed immunity to this disease yet.

I caught the infection from my son, who caught it at a friend’s house. Word has it that the mites can stay in mattresses, bedsheets, chairs, sofas and other places, for hours at a time.

The first symptoms my son had were some tiny spots on his buttocks. The dermatologist who saw him told us that it didn’t look like scabies, and she prescribed some antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory drug.

I happened to have both, so he began his treatment.

But it didn’t get better. He began to itch uncontrollably, especially at night; and the spots would get worse with all of the itching and become papules.

We went to the hospital to get a second opinion and he was diagnosed with scabies. They prescribed him with Permethrin and antihistamines.

Not even in the hard currency drugstores

The funny thing is that the drugs to cure the disease can’t be found at drugstores, not even at international drugstores (selling in CUC). So, it was a futile hunt about, like looking for a needle in a haystack.

I had no other choice but to turn to natural medicine: I used aloe vera, vinegar and the dye of red mangrove bark. However, everything just made it burn and itch more, and the disease spread to other parts of his body.

An herbalist recommended a guacamaya leaf infusion for the itching. You apply the infusion to the body after the final rinse, and let it air dry.

After a few days, I was surprised to discover that I had also become infected, so there were now two of us under the same roof with these damned mites.

I took on the task of looking for Permethrin on Revolico (a Cuban classified ad website). I found somebody who had four tubes left, after a couple of attempts. He was also desperate for money and wanted to sell them to the first person who could get them.

I was able to get there fast thanks to a friend who has a motorbike.

Due to the crisis, human greed and a lack of principles, I had to pay 24 CUC for the medicine, that is to say, 6 CUC per tube.  When it only costs 0.90 CUP at the drugstore. (1 CUC = 24 CUP).

Now, I spend my days pouring boiling water over clothes, ironing, and hoping that this awful thing ends.

To top things off, a waterpipe has broken in our municipality, Playa, so the water supply has been shut off.

Add to this the danger of an imminent hurricane to hit Havana… What else?

As the popular saying hoes: “When misfortune has learned the path to your home, move!”

Read more from Irina Pino’s diary here.


Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

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