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In the beginning of July (see Media: Reports Of Cholera In Cuba) we began to get multiple reports of cholera in Cuba, reports that were at first denied - and then later confirmed - but played down by local and national officials.
While the source of that outbreak was not given, there was media speculation that it may have been imported by returning medical and humanitarian relief personnel who served in Haiti during their recent (and ongoing) cholera epidemic.
The CDC posted the following in their Travels’ notices, in August.
Updated: August 22, 2012
What Is the Current Situation?
The Cuban Ministry of Health has confirmed the first cholera outbreak in Cuba in more than a century. As of July 31, 2012, 236 confirmed cases and 3 deaths have been reported in the cities of Manzanillo, Bayamo, Yara, and Campechuela Niquero in Granma Province. Currently, cases are limited to Granma Province, mostly in Manzanillo. According to the Cuban Ministry of Public Health, control measures have been implemented, including public awareness campaigns and efforts to ensure safe drinking water and to improve environmental sanitation.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) (PDF) is also closely monitoring this situation.
By the end of August, the Cuban government declared the outbreak over (see Global Post story). A month later (see Havanna Times’ More Cholera in Eastern Cuba) Cuban officials once again acknowledged a small outbreak in the eastern province of Granma, where nine cases had been confirmed.
In November, after the passage of Hurricane Sandy, reports of fresh outbreaks of cholera began to emerge, such as this report in the Havana Times on November 22nd.
HAVANA TIMES — The cholera epidemic has spread to the eastern provinces of Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo and Holguin, with dozens of people hospitalized and some municipalities facing critical conditions, reports Hablemos Press.
Sources in the public health-care industry and residents in the east of the country have confirmed off-the-record the proliferation of the epidemic that has plagued Cuba since last June. They noted that the province of Guantanamo could be declared in quarantine.
Officially, the Cuban government has remained silent regarding fresh cholera cases, and has said little about outbreaks of Dengue fever as well.
Yesterday, the Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald carried a long, eye-opening report, challenging the official Cuban silence on these issues.
It’s the disease that the government doesn’t acknowledge, because it might deter tourists from coming to the island.
Posted on Saturday, 12.08.12
Life on the island
Cuba, especially the eastern third of the island, is suffering through an alarming outbreak of cholera — as well as the mosquito-borne dengue fever — brewed in its decrepit water and sewer systems and fueled by Hurricane Sandy’s floods, according to residents.
More than a dozen deaths have been reliably reported. Hospitals and prisons have been quarantined at times. Schools have been shut down, and so have restaurants and street kiosks selling juices and other products made with water.
Although the Cuban medical system is often highly praised, the island’s infrastructure – particularly potable water delivery and sewage treatment – are insufficient for their population, and are often reported to be in disrepair.
Two factors that could help Cholera to remain an ongoing threat on the island for some time to come.