HAVANA TIMES — Cuban authorities reported today on the deaths of three persons from cholera and 50 cases of the infection in Granma Province, reported DPA news on Tuesday.
The outbreak, centered in the city of Manzanillo, in south eastern Cuba, “Is controlled and its trend is toward the reduction of cases,” insisted the Ministry of Public Health in a notice translated below by Havana Times.
This gastrointestinal infection is due to the contamination of several wells in the area, said the note.
In recent weeks, several Cuban provinces have reported cases of “acute diarrhea” due to high temperatures and heavy rains, the ministry explained.
Rumors had been circulating for days in Cuba about possible cases of cholera in the east of the island, reported on by several foreign media.
The three victims were between the ages of 66 and 95 who had “histories of chronic diseases,” highlighted the medical alert.
Health care authorities have already treated around 1,000 people in Manzanillo, and over 98 percent of the local population has been tested for the infection, according to Granma.
The authorities have “adequate resources for proper patient care in all health institutions,” said the ministry, as the island possesses an extensive network of health care services.
Cuba has not suffered a cholera epidemic for over a century, though an outbreak of disease on the neighboring island of Haiti has killed thousands of people since October 2010.
The epidemic in Haiti emerged only months after the devastating earthquake of January 2010, with the infection spreading to the Dominican Republic and cases also being reported in the US state of Florida, noted DPA.
The eastern region of Cuba is the closest to those neighboring nations. Hundreds of Cuban doctors are currently working in a more than decade long medical aid mission in Haiti, with the recent priority being to combat cholera and other diseases.
Note from the Cuban Public Health Ministry
The Ministry of Health reports that in recent weeks some areas have reported an increasing trend in acute diarrheal diseases; these have been influenced by high temperatures and heavy rains.
One of the provinces with the highest recorded incidence is Granma, with a majority of cases in the municipality of Manzanillo, where there was an outbreak of gastrointestinal infections transmitted by contaminated water from several local wells. This has been reported on by the media in that territory.
Health care professionals have treated about 1,000 patients, and effective screening has been conducted on more than 98 percent of the municipality’s population.
Among the total number of patients examined, various germs have been identified which were diagnosed as Vibrio cholerae in 53 cases. This infection was involved in the deaths of three senior citizens (who were 95, 70 and 66 years of age), each of whom had pre-existing histories of chronic illnesses – conditions that were complicated by the gastrointestinal infection. Continuing investigations are being made to determine the actual cause of death in each case.
This outbreak in the city of Manzanillo is controlled and the trend is toward the reduction of cases as a result of health care and anti-epidemic measures being implemented. These steps include the sampling of private and government-owned wells, the closing of contaminated water supplies, the supply of chlorinated water into water supply lines and through water trucks in the affected areas, the elimination of water leaks, the cleaning and sanitation of septic tanks, and a health education program for the population. Resources necessary for adequate patient care are being provided to all health care institutions.
People are encouraged to comply with sanitary measures associated with personal hygiene, water consumption and food preparation.