Cholera In Cuba: US Travel Advisory Issued, Havana Silent On Risk

Cholera in Cuba has been sickening locals and travelers alike in alarming numbers this summer, with suspicion swirling that reporting on the outbreak has been suppressed to avoid harming tourism in Havana.

Despite conflicting reports of Cholera in Cuba, the US diplomatic mission in Havana released a Cholera warning to US citizens who may live in or travel to the country advising certain precautions be taken to avoid infection.

In the warning, posted in a PDF to the diplomatic mission’s website, the agency explains that cases of Cholera in Cuba have been reported in recent weeks, beginning:

“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.”

The statement advises travelers to avoid Cholera in Cuba through simple measures that prevent infection, noting that water sources as well as risky food (such as ceviche) can transmit the dangerous disease:

“Eating or drinking fecally contaminated food or water is the main risk factor. Unsterilized water, food from street vendors, raw fish dishes (e.g. ceviche) and inadequately cooked (e.g. steamed) shellfish are common sources of infection.”

Sherri Porcelain is a senior lecturer in global public health in world affairs at the University of Miami, and Porcelain has been monitoring the ongoing Cholera in Cuba situation. She says:

“The lack of transparency coming from Cuba is truly bothersome. Sharing of information in a timely fashion is most essential for prevention … yet they post no information, no information at all.”

It is suspected that Cholera in Cuba has been on the rise after it was brought over by aid workers stationed in Haiti, where thousands have died of the illness since a devastating earthquake destroyed much of the struggling country’s infrastructure in 2010.