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State Department Warns U.S. Citizens of Cholera Outbreak in Havana, Cuba

11:32 AM, Aug 21, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
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The State Department Wednesday issued a security message warning U.S. citizens in or traveling to Cuba about an outbreak of cholera:

U.S. Interests Section

Havana, Cuba

Security Message – Cholera Outbreak

August 20, 2013 

This message is to inform U.S. citizens residing in or visiting Cuba that media reports have indicated that cases of cholera have been identified in the city of Havana, possibly linked to a reported outbreak of cholera in eastern Cuba.  The Panamerican Health Organization (PAHO) issued an epidemiological alert noting the presence of cholera in Cuba and confirming that foreign travelers have contracted cholera during recent trips to Cuba.

As noted in the warning, the Panamerican Health Organization issued an update on August 14 on cholera in several Caribbean countries.  The Centers for Disease Control, however, does not currently list any travel health warnings for Cuba.

The Miami Herald ran a story on August 17 titled "Cuba’s Silence on Cholera Dangerous to Your Health."  Sherri L. Porcelain, a "senior lecturer in global public health in world affairs and a senior research associate at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami," wrote:

After a century hiatus, cholera has returned to Cuba. Along with the re-emergence of dengue, a mosquito-born disease, both the local population and tourists visiting the island remain at risk today. This is no surprise since Cuba’s deteriorated water, sewage, sanitation and housing systems all create the ideal environment for rapid disease spread. 

Luis Suarez Rosas, a physician with Cuba’s National School of Medicine, captures the paradox of Cuban healthcare today in using the term “epidemiologic silence” to describe Cuba’s official position on reporting disease outbreak information.

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