Increase of Dengue in Cuba / Rosa María Rodríguez Torrado

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Participants of an anti-insect fumigation brigade from the Cuban public health system commented on November 3rd that there is an elevated number of cases of dengue in the Havana municipality of La Habana del Este.

Calling our attention is the recent increase of this acute viral illness — transmitted by the female aedes aegypti mosquito — and the official silence on the subject, explained by the overused pretext of not alarming the public, but with the result of disinforming society about topics of fundamental interest. Due to public service announcements on national television and the intensity in calls by health workers to eliminate the possible focus — reproduction springs and breeding grounds — already there is popular distrust, “he has read straightness in the twisted lines,” and suspicion of the increase in cases for this pandemic in our country. They further mention that the reported patients are being attended to in their houses for the number of infected people and the people’s distrust of being admitted to the hospital, given their substandard hygienic/sanitary conditions. This illness, that the aedes albopictus also spreads, is known as “bone breaking” and produces fever, headaches, and aching joints; it lasts approximately a week and can lead to death. The increasing incidence of outbreaks has also been detected in other capital area municipalities like Arroyo Naranjo, Old Havana, Central Havana, and Diez de Octubre, but for the lack of informative transparency we do not know the rates of dengue in the rest of the nation.

The causes of the proliferation of this transmitter fundamentally stem from entrance areas, the lack of water in many households, and the shortage of places to store it. In zones lacking daily supplies of this vital liquid, inhabitants are obliged to store it in 55-gallon tanks with improvised caps that do not close properly and facilitate the entrance of these insects which then consequently start reproduction. This is brought about by people arriving in our country with the sickness, which then encounters adequate conditions for its propagation. The state sells plastic tanks in convertible currency and at exorbitant prices in hard currency stores that are not within reach of the average Cuban.

Many distrust the magnitude of the problem and the fact that they are asking citizens to open their doors to the fumigators without hesitating. Secrecy by the authorities in almost all levels of national life is traditional practice and secrecy concerning dengue is no exception. It is taking place just as we arrive at the high tourist season in Cuba.

Translated by: M. Ouellette

November 8 2011