Further cholera outbreak suspected in Cuba

| 22/08/2013

(CNS): Although officials say that they are not concerned that another suspected cholera outbreak in neighbouring Cuba will have any direct consequences in Cayman, they issued a warning Wednesday to people travelling to the country to take precautions. “Although there is no official word on the situation in Cuba, it is our responsibility to empower the public by informing them of the situation,” said Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr Samuel Williams. “At this time, there are no travel restrictions. However, if you have to go, take vital precautions, such as ensuring hygienic food preparation, boiling or purifying all water, and washing hands often with soap and clean water.”

He also advised that travellers should carry an ample supply of oral rehydration salts.

“Cholera is not present in the Cayman Islands, and the chances of importation of cholera are limited. Even if it occurs, our excellent sanitation and safe water will prevent its spread. In addition, we have adequate facilities and drugs to manage any case should importation occur.”  

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by ingesting food or water contaminated with cholera bacterium. It can take anywhere from five hours to five days for symptoms to appear after infection, although symptoms usually occur within 24-48 hours. Cholera infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe.

Travellers to Cuba are advised to contact their doctor immediately should they develop watery diarrhoea and vomiting within five days of leaving Cuba. It is also very important to state their travel history to their doctor. This advice is also applicable to travellers to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the two other countries in the region currently affected by cholera.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Osbourne Bodden said public health and the ministry would monitor the situation closely and keep the public informed of any development.

Tips for Prevention: Travellers to Cuba or any endemic countries can greatly reduce the risk of contracting the disease by following these practices:

  • Drink only bottled, boiled or chemically-treated water and/or bottled or canned beverages.
  • Ensure that seals are unbroken when using bottled drinks.
  • Disinfect your own water: boil for one minute or filter the water and add two drops of household bleach or half an iodine tablet per litre of water.
  • Use bottled, boiled or chemically-treated water to wash dishes and brush teeth.
  • Use ice in your drink only if you know it was made from boiled or treated water.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and clean water.
  • Clean your hands beforeyou eat or prepare foods, and after using the bathroom.
  • Eat foods that have been thoroughly cooked and are still hot, or fruit that you have peeled yourself.
  • Cook all vegetables. Do not eat salads or other raw vegetables.
  • Do not buy food or beverages from street vendors.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Health

About the Author ()

Comments are closed.