Cholera: dangerous infectious disease in Cuba

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USA warns of a possible cholera outbreak in Cuba

According to American authorities, there is evidence of a cholera outbreak in eastern Cuba. There also seem to be cases in Havana and tourists have also become infected.

Cholera believed to be eradicated in Cuba In a statement released on Wednesday, the US diplomatic mission in Cuba warned of a possible cholera outbreak on the Caribbean island. There is evidence of an outbreak in eastern Cuba and there are reports of individual cases in the capital Havana. Cholera in Cuba has been considered eradicated since 1882. However, the Cuban authorities admitted in summer 2012 that there were more than 400 cases on the island. And in early 2013, rumors of 51 new cases in Havana, the capital, were officially confirmed.

Danger from contaminated water Contaminated water poses the greatest risk of infection. According to the warning, the “usual sources” such as improperly cooked fish and raw seafood pose a risk. Cholera bacteria are spread, among other things, through food or drinking water that is contaminated with human faeces. According to information from the Pan-American health organization OPS, foreign tourists have also contracted cholera. An Italian, two Venezuelans and two Chileans are among those affected.

Cholera can be fatal Every year between three and five million people worldwide develop cholera. The disease is one of the serious infectious diseases that, if left untreated, can lead to the death of the person concerned. Infected people get very severe diarrhea and the body loses up to 25 liters of fluid a day. In 99 percent of cases, the disease is curable if the extreme water and salt loss is treated. Travelers could prevent this by drinking only boiled or bottled water. Fruit should be peeled and food cooked well. Frequent hand washing also reduces the risk of infection.

Don't panic

The Cuban authorities would continue to monitor and investigate the illnesses closely, according to the OPS. So far, however, the state authorities have refrained from providing public information on the cases in order not to trigger any pnik that could harm tourism as an important industry of the state. Cholera is also raging in other Caribbean countries. Haiti, for example, has been battling an epidemic that has cost the lives of more than 7,500 people since the 2010 earthquake. The spread was further promoted by hurricane Sandy, which devastated the Caribbean islands in autumn 2012. Diseases were also known from the Dominican Republic. (ad)

Photo credit: Jochen Necker /

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