Ministry of Health Reveals the Number of Oropouche Infections in Cuba and Warns About the Increase in Dengue Fever

Right now there are 17 viral diseases that plague the Island

There are cases of Oropuche in 13 provinces of the country / Granma

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, July 5, 2024 — Cuba has registered more than 35,000 cases of Oropouche this year in 13 provinces of the country. The data appears in a table that the Ministry of Health shared –very discreetly and without expressly mentioning the number– in a broadcast of the State TV Mesa Redonda (Round Table) program dedicated to the epidemiological situation in Cuba.

Around 35,000 febrile cases were reported in Cuba / Minsap

Carilda Peña, deputy minister of public health, published another table in which she revealed the incidence rate of dengue fever in the country this week: about 20 suspected cases of having contracted the disease per 100,000 inhabitants. With this figure – which also appeared discreetly on the screen – the official intended to celebrate the results of Cuban health in comparison with the regional situation, based on a report from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to which Cuba, however, did not send data.

Dengue infections in the region / PAHO
Both dengue and Oropouche – two of the 17 viral diseases that are affecting Cuba, along with influenza and coronavirus variants – tend to increase in number of infections. The reason, in addition to the summer and the increase in mosquitoes, is that in the cities of the Island there are too many sources of contagion, particularly piles of trash, which the vice minister urged the State to “clean up.”

17 viral diseases reported on the island / Minsap

Arleen Rodríguez, the show’s host, did not like the mention of government responsibility in the island’s deplorable state of hygiene and invited Peña to “not touch that key,” while asking her to continue addressing the epidemiological “literacy” of viewers.

The dengue infection curve on the island already exceeds –in week 25 of this year– that of 2022

Peña displayed PAHO graphs showing the regional situation to argue that Cuba, seen in context, was not facing such a serious situation. “We are talking about the fact that this week in the (Pan-American) region, 9,852,482 suspected cases of dengue have been reported. That means an increase of 231%, compared to the same period in 2023,” she insisted, in front of a regional map in which the lack of data on Cuba was clearly noticeable.

She admitted, however, that the curve of dengue infections on the Island already exceeds – in week 25 of this year – that of 2022, when the coronavirus was at its peak.

Dengue incidence rate in the last four years / Minsap

That year, at the same time, the rate was also around 20 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, and broke a record in September, when 113 cases were recorded per 100,000 Cubans. At that time, Peña claimed, “very little action was taken,” since all Public Health activity was focused on the coronavirus.

The vice minister attributed the current increase to Cuba’s contact with the outside world and the beginning of summer, and said, in its favor, that until week 20 the situation had been stable.

“When we reach week 20 of the year, which is the end of May and beginning of June, there is an increase in factors that generate the procreation of the vector that transmits the disease; the temperature, the rains, the humidity increase, and we already have the rest of the factors because we are in the tropics. Therefore, the vector population of the transmitting mosquito begins to grow and the disease begins to increase,” she explained.

Oropouche, judging by the graphs and Peña’s words, “is already an epidemic event”

It is a “complex situation,” the deputy minister said, leaving in the background what really worries the population: Oropouche. These fevers, which Vivian Kourí, director of the Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine, spent a lot of time defining from a scientific point of view, are also on the rise, although the authorities have been hiding the real number of infections for months.

Oropouche, judging by the graphs and Peña’s words, “is already an epidemic event.” “It’s just a matter of time before there are more,” she observed, especially with the state of “the puddles of water, in the ditches, in the grass, bushes,” which are the habitat of the Culex mosquito, which transmits it.

Peña alluded – not without some discomfort on Rodríguez’s part – to the need for “environmental sanitation” and urban hygiene. “We have to continue fumigating inside the house and outside we have to mop, tidy and collect the garbage,” she asked, knowing that many of these tasks are the responsibility of the State Communal Services, whose debacle has been denounced even by the official press.

Summer heat, power cuts, shortages and illnesses create a distressing situation for Cubans, who experience a radical deterioration in their living conditions every July and August. The Oropouche virus, which has already set off alarm bells in Havana and whose spread is becoming increasingly difficult to conceal, is only complicating an already agonizing situation.


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