HAVANA TIMES — The US Interests Section (USIS) in Havana has issued an alert to US citizens for a possible outbreak of cholera in Cuba, reported dpa news.
“We urge you to follow public health recommendations and guidelines, such as safe food and water precautions and frequent hand washing to help prevent cholera infection. The Cuban Ministry of Public Health is urging people to comply with sanitary measures associated with personal hygiene, water and food,” said the diplomatic mission in a message posted today on its website.
The alert dated Tuesday but released Wednesday, said that “common sources of infection” are the intake of “untreated water, food sold by street vendors, raw fish dishes (ceviche) and shellfish inadequately cooked.”
The diplomatic mission said the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an epidemiological alert, confirming that foreign visitors including an Italian, two Venezuelans and two Chileans had contracted cholera during recent trips to Cuba.
PAHO recognizes in its report that the Cuban authorities “maintain a strict and active clinical-epidemiological monitoring of acute diarrheal diseases, studying every possible case.”
As of this publication, the Cuban authorities have not issued any information on the alert, presumably to not generate an alarm that could affect tourism, one of the main economic engines of the island, generating an estimated 2.5 billion US dollars in revenue in 2011 according to official data.
The disease was eradicated on the island since 1882, in the time of the Spanish colonial rule, until earlier this year, when the Cuban Ministry of Public Health issued a report which recognized the existence of 51 cases of cholera in Havana and several cases in the eastern provinces, noted dpa.
The US maintains a travel ban on Cuba for most citizens, but Cuban-Americans are free to travel back and forth and hundreds of thousands do each year. Some other US citizens travel to Cuba under people-to-people licensing and still others travel illegally through third countries.