Posted on Wednesday, 06.18.14
Cuba confirms Chikungunya fever cases
The violent fever was found in Cubans who had traveled abroad.
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
The Cuban Ministry of Health has confirmed the first six cases of
Chikungunya, a painful and often lingering arthritis-like fever that has
been spreading rapidly across the Caribbean for the past six months.
Five of the victims returned recently from Haiti and the sixth returned
from the Dominican Republic, the ministry said Wednesday, indicating
that they were infected by virus-carrying mosquitoes abroad and not in Cuba.
All are recovering and most were "linked to illicit commerce," the
ministry announcement added, apparently referring to the practice of
traveling abroad to buy cheap goods and selling them for a profit after
Independent journalist Mario Hechavarría reported last week that doctors
at a hospital in the eastern city of Holguin had told staffers of dozens
of cases of Chikungunya in various parts of eastern Cuba.
Similar to dengue fever, Chikungunya causes headache, rashes and fevers
that last two to five days, followed by joint pains that are similar to
arthritis and can persist for years. It is rarely fatal but can kill
already weak victims.
Widely spread in Africa and Asia, the disease was first spotted in the
Caribbean in December in the French territory of St. Martin. Nearly
90,000 suspected cases have been reported in Haiti and the Dominican
Republic since then.
Cuban doctors already are facing new outbreaks of dengue and cholera
during the summer season, when mosquitoes spread dengue and the rains
flood latrines and help to spread cholera.
The brief Health Ministry statement said that none of the Cubans in
state-run assistance programs around the Caribbean have returned home
infected because they are put "under a strict quarantine." It gave no
Cuban officials are often reluctant to confirm outbreaks of diseases on
the island, apparently to avoid scaring away foreign tourists who are
one of the key sources of hard currency income for the government.
Source: Cuba confirms Chikungunya fever cases - Cuba - MiamiHerald.com -