Cuba reports no Zika transmission since March; Dengue all but eliminated
HAVANA | BY MARC FRANK
REUTERS/ENRIQUE DE LA OSA
Cuba has successfully held off the Zika epidemic and in the process all
but eliminated Dengue fever and other mosquito-carried illnesses,
state-run media reported on Tuesday.
Public Health Minister Roberto Morales Ojeda told a Council of Ministers
meeting that a series of measures taken this year to eliminate the Aedes
strain of mosquito that carries Zika and other viruses had drastically
reduced infestations. There had been no infections, he said, since one
locally transmitted case, the country's 14th, was reported on March 15.
Cuba has called out the military to help fumigate, activated
neighborhood watch groups to check there is no standing water, where the
insects breed, instituted health checks at airports and other entry
points to the Caribbean island, among other measures.
A source in the health ministry, with access to epidemiological data,
told Reuters last week that there was no Zika transmission.
"We are all over it. Every time someone enters the country from Brazil
or Venezuela or wherever and comes down with Zika, more than 20 cases so
far, we isolate them and check their neighborhoods," the source said,
asking not to be identified as the information is considered classified.
The source has contradicted official reports in the past due to the
individual's concern for public health.
U.S. health officials have concluded that Zika infections in pregnant
women can cause microcephaly, a birth defect marked by small head size
that can lead to severe developmental problems in babies.
The World Health Organization has said there is strong scientific
consensus that Zika can also cause Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological
syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults.
The connection between Zika and microcephaly first came to light last
fall in Brazil, which has now confirmed more than 1,300 cases of
microcephaly that it considers to be related to Zika infections in mothers.
The United States and Cuba signed an historic agreement last week to
collaborate on health issues, including Zika, as part of detente begun
in December 2014.
Media quoted Health Minister Morales as stating that due to efforts to
date, there were no reported cases of Chikungunya, another
mosquito-spread virus, and that Dengue, endemic to the region, had been
all but eliminated.
"Dengue, which when we began our intensive campaign was present in 14
provinces and the special municipality of the Isla de la Juventud, today
is present in only one municipality in Guantanamo province," he said.
(Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Dan Grebler)
Source: Cuba reports no Zika transmission since March; Dengue all but
eliminated | Reuters -