A Wave of Bedbugs Invades Santiago de Cuba’s Schools, Hospitals, and Prisons

Smiles to the World Day Care, in Santiago de Cuba. (Facebook/Provincial Directorate of Public Health)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Francisco Herodes Díaz Echemendía, Santiago de Cuba, 28 February 2023 — A source close to the health centers assured 14ymedio that the plague mainly affects the Materno Norte Tamara Bunke and Infantil Sur hospitals, traditionally known as La Colonia Española, and community polyclinics 28 de Septiembre and Camilo Torres Restrepo.

The epidemic is also found at the Rafael María Mendive Basic Secondary School facilities and the one at the Altamira neighborhood. There are also reports of concentrations of the insect at the Mar Verde prison, where overcrowded conditions enable the spread of diseases among inmates.

Without clearly confirming the presence of the epidemic, Santiago de Cuba’s Provincial Health Directorate published this Sunday on social networks that there had been an “exchange” with parents and educators of the Sonrisas al Mundo Child Care Center to discuss hygiene and sanitary measures in the fight against dengue and bedbugs, as well as to “avoid accidents.”

In the informal market, however, fipronil, a broad-spectrum insecticide, sells for more than 20 pesos per milliliter

While bed bugs spread throughout the province, state pharmacies do not have medications to combat the plague. In the informal market, however, fipronil, a broad-spectrum insecticide, sells for more than 20 pesos per milliliter. This price makes combating the insect more expensive since, in order to eradicate it, surfaces need to be fumigated repeatedly with a solution of the product.

At the beginning of February, Diario de Cuba published the case of the closure of the Otto Parellada Basic Secondary School for fumigation work due to an outbreak of bedbugs. In that case, a teacher complained about the precarious conditions in the classrooms, lacking mops, chlorine, disinfectant or water in the restrooms. There is also a lack of soap or medications for students.

Bed bugs look for small cracks in homes in order to hide, especially preferring bed mattresses. Their spread is rapid and resistant to extreme weather conditions, so in a matter of days they can infest an entire home, school or even hospitals that should have strict cleaning controls to prevent illnesses among patients.

In 2021, in the midst of the Covid-19 health emergency, Santiago de Cuba was on alert for outbreaks of scabies and lice, while in 2022 the province registered figures not seen in 15 years in dengue outbreaks due to the lack of resources to combat the breeding sites of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.

Alfredo Cintra Guerra, responsible for surveillance and vector control in Santiago de Cuba, acknowledged last year that little can be done to control the spread of dengue due to the scarcity of resources, mainly the insecticide Abate to distribute among homes, and fuel to travel to see patients or fumigate the areas with the highest rates of infection.


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