Thursday, May 18, 2017

Cuba says Zika tally rises to nearly 1,900 cases

Cuba says Zika tally rises to nearly 1,900 cases

Cuba said on Thursday 1,847 residents had so far contracted the
mosquito-borne Zika virus, warning that certain provinces on the
Caribbean island still had high rates of infestation despite a series of
measures to stave off the epidemic.

At the start of the global Zika outbreak, Cuba managed for months to
fend off the virus that can cause microcephaly in babies as well as
Guillain-Barre syndrome, even as neighboring territories like Puerto
Rico were hard hit.

The Communist-run country called out the military to help fumigate,
activated neighborhood watch groups to check for places with standing
water where mosquitoes breed, and instituted health checks at airports
and other entry points to the island.

"Even though we have managed to reduce the cases of infestation... there
are still provinces like Havana, Guantanamo, Cienfuegos and Camaguey,
with big risks and rates of infestation," the head of the Civil
Defense's Department of Disaster Reduction, Gloria Gely, was quoted as
saying by state-run media.

Although generally a mild disease, the virus is a particular risk to
pregnant women as it can cause microcephaly - a severe birth defect in
which babies are born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains.

Gely did not detail how many of the cases were contracted locally nor
whether there had been any instances of babies born with microcephaly on
the island of 11.2 million inhabitants.

There is no preventive treatment against Zika, but drug companies are
rushing to develop a vaccine. The virus has spread to more than 60
countries and territories since the current outbreak was identified in
Brazil during 2015.

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh and Nelson Acosta; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Source: Cuba says Zika tally rises to nearly 1,900 cases | Reuters -

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