Public Health Update: Cholera Outbreak in Cuba
Medical Officer of Health, Dr Kiran Kumar has issued an update on the Cholera situation in Cuba. As at 13 July 2012, Cuba has 137 confirmed cholera cases and approximately 1000 patients have received medical attention in that country. As per the latest report from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the deaths remain at three and the confirmed cases reached 236 on July 29, 2012, in the Manzanillo province of Granma.
“There are no travel restrictions. If you have to go, take vital precautions such as ensuring hygienic food preparation, boiling or purifying all water, and washing hands often with soap and clean water. Travellers should also carry an ample supply of oral rehydration salts” Dr. Kumar stated.
Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by ingesting contaminated food or water with cholera bacterium. It can take anywhere from five hours to five days for symptoms to appear after infection, but usually symptoms appear within 24-48 hours. Cholera infection is often mild or without symptoms but can sometimes be severe.
Travellers to Cuba are advised to contact their doctor immediately should they develop watery diarrhoea and vomiting within five days of leaving. It is also important to state their travel history to their doctor. This advisory is applicable to travellers to Haiti and Dominican Republic, the two other countries in the region affected by cholera.
“Cholera is not present in the Cayman Islands and the chances of importation of cholera into Cayman are limited and even if it occurs, our excellent sanitation and safe water will prevent its spread. In addition, we have adequate facilities and drugs to manage any case should importation occur, “Dr. Kumar emphasised.
To ensure ultimate readiness the Public Health Department held multi-agency preparedness meetings and Minister of Health, Hon. Mark Scotland applauded the pro-active efforts by various agencies in monitoring the cholera situation in Cuba and taking the necessary steps to prevent, detect and manage any imported cholera cases.
For more information on cholera please call the Public Health Department on 244-2621.
Side Bar: Tips for Prevention
Travellers to Cuba can greatly reduce the risk of contracting the disease by following these practices:
- Drink only bottled, boiled or chemically-treated water and/or bottled or canned beverages.
- Ensure that seals are unbroken when using bottled drinks.
- Disinfect your own water: boil for one minute or filter the water and add two drops of household bleach or half an iodine tablet per litre of water.
- Use bottled, boiled or chemically-treated water to wash dishes and brush teeth.
- Use ice in your drink only if you know it was made from boiled or treated water.
- Wash your hands often with soap and clean water.
- Clean your hands before you eat or prepare foods, and after using the bathroom.
- Eat foods that have been thoroughly cooked and are still hot, or fruit that you have peeled yourself.
- Cook all vegetables. Do not eat salads or other raw vegetables.
- Do not buy food or beverages from street vendors.