14ymedio, Bertha K. Guillén, San Cristóbal (Artemisa), 1 July 2019 — An outbreak of dengue keeps Public Health authorities on alert in San Cristóbal, in the province of Artemisa. Up until now seven people have been confirmed as carriers of the virus, but more than twenty are admitted under suspicion, as an official from the Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in the province confirmed to 14ymedio.
“We are equipping an admitting room in the special school with a capacity for 40 people, there all the conditions are set up to avoid the illness being spread, the number of admissions suspected of dengue vary between 18 and 23 people daily, although in recent weeks we have reached up to 30,” said another employee of the Institute via telephone.
The symptoms of the dengue virus include rash, muscle and joint pain, migraine, and weakness. The illness can cause hemorrhage and requires hospitalization, especially if the patient has previously suffered the same ailment.
Last year the official press reported on the presence in the center of the Island of a “serotype of dengue” of which there had not been outbreaks reported since 1977 and which required extreme epidemiological measures. In Cuba there are four serotypes transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito present in the country.
San Cristóbal is currently the municipality of the Artemisa province with the greatest number of focal centers of mosquitos that transmit the disease, with around 68 detected in the month of May and another 49 in the first twelve days of the month of June, according to a note published in the provincial newspaper El Artemiseño.
The causes of the growth of the focal centers are attributed to the rains of these months that create a favorable environment for the proliferation of the mosquito, in addition to the lack of personnel to carry out sanitation campaigns and home inspections.
“Although these focal centers are localized, we have not yet been able to exterminate them, many have left this type of work to start their own businesses or work privately, here we don’t make enough, and at this point we no longer ’invent’,” Arsenio Rodríguez, one of the fumigators, explains to 14ymedio, using a common Cuban expression for figuring how to get by on very little. “This week some workers from other nearby municipalities will have to come to help control the situation.”
Rises in the number of people infected by the dengue virus are frequent in the summer months, especially in years with a lot of rain. In addition to the intense heat, in the summer season of 2019 high precipitation levels are being reported above historic averages, according to data provided by the Institute of Meteorology.
In the past few weeks medical students have been displaced from the classrooms to cover the deficit of workers. The young people must make inquiries through the whole community, especially in the zones where the principal focal points of the vector have been located.
“They told us that we would have to be very meticulous and also report any case with fever or symptoms that would suggest a dengue infection, in addition to collaborating with the sanitation work,” explains Susana Méndez, a student in the third year of medical school.
Despite the risks many people prefer to go through the illness in their houses and not go to the doctor to not risk being admitted. Although the institutions guarantee they are in good conditions, there are problems in potable water supply and cleanliness and the facilities are in a deplorable state.
“This is still an old woman wearing blush, as they say, now it is a special school, but side by side it’s also a maternity waiting home, a primary school, and high school, before everything was only one thing, imagine so many people together in the same place,” says one of the ex-patients of the ward.
“The truth is that the water situation is really complicated, it comes on Friday for a while and until Monday we don’t see it again,” affirms María Eugenia, one of the nurses.
The doctors do not have a record of the real number of infected persons, “Everything is a question of statistics,” says one of the doctors in charge of the admitted patients who prefers to remain anonymous out of fear of reprisal.
“The patients enter with criteria for admittance out of suspicion of dengue, the follow-ups are done, and later we send specimens to the Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine to do the analysis that confirms the diagnosis, but the results never reach our hands, they remain, presumably, in the National Institute of Hygiene, Epidemiology, and Microbiology,” he says.
The majority of the patients find out this confirmation weeks after the illness passes or they never end up receiving the official notification that they suffered from dengue.
Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera
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