Outbreak NoticeThis information is current as of today, January 31, 2013 at 20:54 EST
Cholera in Cuba
Released: January 31, 2013
What Is the Current Situation?On January 6, 2013, The Cuban Ministry of Health (MoH) confirmed an outbreak of cholera in Havana, the country’s capital. A total of 51 laboratory-confirmed cases of cholera have been reported in Havana.
In July 2012, the Cuban MoH confirmed the country’s first cholera outbreak in more than a century. That outbreak was in the city of Manzanillo, in eastern Granma province, and was declared over in late August. Cuba’s cumulative number of confirmed cholera cases since July 2012 is now more than 500.
What Is Cholera?Cholera is a bacterial disease that can cause diarrhea and dehydration. Cholera is most often spread through eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. Water may be contaminated by the feces of an infected person or by untreated sewage. Food may be contaminated by water containing cholera bacteria or by being handled by a person ill with cholera.
How Can Travelers Protect Themselves?Most travelers are not at high risk of getting cholera. However, travelers to an area with a known outbreak should take steps to avoid getting sick. (See below.) The vaccine to prevent cholera is not available in the United States.
Travelers can prevent cholera by following these 5 basic steps:
1) Drink and use safe water.*
*Piped water sources, drinks sold in cups or bags, or ice may not be safe. All drinking water and water used to make ice should be boiled or treated with chlorine.
- Bottled water with unbroken seals and canned or bottled carbonated beverages are safe to drink and use.
- Use safe water to brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, and make ice.
- Clean food preparation areas and kitchenware with soap and safe water and let dry completely before reuse.
To be sure water is safe to drink and use:
- Boil it or treat it with water purification tablets, a chlorine product, or household bleach.
- Bring your water to a complete boil for at least 1 minute.
- To treat your water, use water purification tablets—brought with you from the United States or a locally available treatment product—and follow the instructions.
- If a chlorine treatment product is not available, you can treat your water with household bleach. Add 8 drops of household bleach for every 1 gallon of water (or 2 drops of household bleach for every 1 liter of water) and wait 30 minutes before drinking.
- Always store your treated water in a clean, covered container.
2) Wash your hands often with soap and safe water.*
* If no soap is available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
- Before eating or preparing food
- Before feeding your children
- After using the bathroom
- After changing diapers
- After taking care of someone ill with diarrhea
3) Use toilets; do not defecate in any body of water.
- Use toilets, latrines, or other sanitation systems, such as chemical toilets, to dispose of feces.
- Wash hands with soap and safe water after using the bathroom.
- Clean toilets and surfaces contaminated with feces by using a solution of 1 part household bleach to 9 parts water.
4) Cook food well (especially seafood), keep it covered, eat it hot, and peel fruits and vegetables.*
*Avoid raw foods other than fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself.
- Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it.
- Be sure to cook shellfish (such as crabs and crayfish) until they are very hot all the way through.
- Do not bring perishable seafood back to the United States.
5) Clean up safely—in the kitchen and in places where the family bathes and washes clothes
- Wash yourself, your children, diapers, and clothes at least 30 meters away from drinking water sources.
Previous posts on cholera in Cuba:
- Totalitarianism in the Time of Cholera in Cuba January 10, 2013
- Cholera, Dengue and Totalitarianism in Cuba August 11, 2012
- Cholera and the Cuban Health Care System July 7, 2012