Oropouche is Spreading in Cuba & We Only See Tepid Measures

HAVANA TIMES – The Oropouche virus, the new mosquito-borne disease variant, continues to spread uncontrollably in Cuba, with numbers appearing significantly higher than officially recognized.

It is now acknowledged that the virus is present on the island, but the authorities are downplaying the situation, even as half the country is suffering from it.

According to the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP), nine provinces (Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba, Matanzas, Mayabeque, Villa Clara, Sancti Spíritus, Ciego de Ávila, Holguín, and Guantanamo) and 23 municipalities are currently affected.

Primarily in suburban and rural areas, said Dr. Francisco Duran, the national director of Epidemiology at MINSAP, in a recent press conference. Duran is well-remembered as the official voice during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The truth is that this illness, with symptoms of fever, headaches, general discomfort, joint pain, and even vomiting and diarrhea are very similar to dengue, continues to gain ground in Cuba. According to Durán, the incidence rate of suspected dengue cases has significantly increased in recent weeks, especially in the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud and the provinces of Santiago de Cuba, Guantánamo, Ciego de Avila, Holguín, and Cienfuegos.

In other words, two more territories (Isla de la Juventud and Camagüey) can be added to the list of nine, making it 11 out of the 14 provinces affected — nearly all of Cuba.

The difference with dengue is that the new symptoms last around 72 hours instead of two weeks like dengue, which can be fatal. They also differ in that the dengue-transmitting agent is the Aedes aegypti mosquito, while Oropouche fever is transmitted by Culex mosquitoes and dipterans of the genus Culicidae — a mere technicality since they are all everywhere.

As usual, Durán recommended that all citizens with symptoms see a doctor, but with the shortage of medicines, this would merely serve for statistical purposes, as doctors have nothing to prescribe.

Additionally, with power outages lasting between 12 and 15 hours daily in much of the archipelago, mosquitoes are thriving, compounded by serious problems with garbage collection.

I know for a fact that in one of those provinces, plastic garbage bins were distributed, but since waste is collected using animal traction, the bins simply become true disease breeding grounds because there is no fuel for the truck that can handle them. In summary, when the cart comes, it picks up what is outside, which accumulates because the bin obviously fills up in a couple of days, but the rest remains in place waiting for the truck that never comes, while larvae proliferate.

Adding to this is the fact that due to the precarious food situation, the bodies of many Cubans lack the necessary self-defenses and antibodies, complicating the scenario even more. As Duran himself acknowledges, each person reacts differently, and the average Cuban will not withstand the same as someone who has milk for breakfast every day, chicken for lunch, and beef for dinner with all the accompaniments.

Moreover, although it is not mentioned on the National Television News, in the neighborhood where I currently live, for example, fumigation has not been done for over two years, and I am talking about Havana, which is prioritized and does not appear on the list of affected territories.

It became public that Havana’s Industriales baseball team, the most famous in the country, suffered from the virus shortly before the conclusion of the regular phase of the season while touring Eastern Cuba. According to its manager, Guillermo Carmona, the effects persisted in their players for more than a week.

Evidently, our dear Miguel Díaz-Canel will not suffer from it, nor will his right-hand man, Manuel Marrero, but at any moment, we might wake up to the news that it has reached the capital, something that is currently denied.

People I know personally, but in other provinces, have suffered the severe effects of the disease and, to treat them, have had to resort to old stored medicines because there is nothing in the pharmacies to combat the virus.

I do not know if private businesses will be authorized to start importing and selling medicines, because so far they are only found on the illicit market. Politically, it would mean acknowledging the failure of national production, but it could relieve some people and “legalize” what is quite openly sold individually on the internet.

The calmness with which the issue is being treated is a bit frightening because there is a thin line between Oropouche and dengue, and the same circumstances that favor the increase of one do so with the other.

As I mentioned before, in the last two years, the anti-vector campaign has been limited to coming to your house, asking for the paper where visits are recorded, and adding one more visit. No fumigation to eliminate possible breeding grounds.

Given this reality, it is not surprising that cases continue to rise, and soon no provinces will be “immune,” but well, since it is not fatal, it will not be taken as seriously.

I hope that dengue remains within current levels, otherwise we would indeed be on the brink of another pandemic, given the critical hygienic and sanitary conditions surrounding us. God help us.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *