Cuban government stays mum on new cholera reports

Cuban government stays mum on new cholera reports

Juan O. Tamayo | The Miami Herald

MIAMI — Four weeks after the Cuban government announced that an outbreak

of cholera in the eastern part of the island was over, there are

unconfirmed reports of new cases popping up in two small towns.

Twenty-seven cases were reported in the municipality of San Luis, in the

eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, and 19 more in the Bahia Honda

municipality 35 miles west of Havana.

Roberto Gonzalez, a living in San Luis, said that area public

workers and residents have told him of the more than two dozen

confirmed cases and 102 suspected cases of cholera in the municipality

over the past two weeks.

Gonzalez said that on Tuesday he saw checking IDs on municipal

roads to keep out non-residents and barring all access to the Eliseo

Reyes clinic in the village of . Tanker trucks were delivering

water to areas where the aqueduct has been shut down.

The Cuban government has not publicly acknowledged any new cholera cases

since Aug. 28, when it declared that an epidemic focused in the eastern

city of Manzanillo had ended with a final tally of three deaths and 417

confirmed cases.

Government officials provided little information during that two-month

long outbreak of cholera, Cuba's first in many decades. They confirmed

it only after independent journalists and dissidents began reporting on

the epidemic.

Part of the in San Luis also has been turned into an isolation

facility, and some of the more serious cases were sent to a hospital in

the provincial capital, Santiago de Cuba, he told The Miami Herald by


Authorities also have readied a nearby to accept more cases,

added Gonzalez, a member of the dissident Cuban Patriotic Union.

Moises Leonardo Rodriguez, a resident of the port

of Cabanas adjoining Bahia Honda, said neighbors and nurses told him of

19 cholera cases in that area, including the death of a 65-year-old woman.

Two public health employees wearing masks told his daughter last week to

stay away from the Cabanas clinic because it was treating cholera

patients, Rodriguez told the Herald by telephone.

He added that other public health workers told him a government

epidemiologist had instructed them on how to canvas Bahia Honda

residents for symptoms of cholera, like diarrhea and vomiting, but told

them never to use the word cholera.

Some work places in Cabanas have distributed water purification tables,

Rodriguez reported, and residents were told Monday that a 10-day ban on

fishing in local waters had been lifted.

Cholera bacteria are most often spread in contaminated water. In the

Manzanillo outbreak, public health officials said heavy rains in June

flooded latrines, which in turn contaminated some of the area's wells.

Most Bahia Honda homes have latrines and get their water from a nearby

dam, Rodriguez said.

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