Reports from Cuba: Contaminated water main cause of diarrheal diseases in Cuba

14yMedio reports from Havana via Translating Cuba:

Contaminated Water is the Main Cause of Diarrheal Diseases in Cuba

The poor water service in most of the country forces a large part of the citizens to use the water they have at their disposal

Acute diarrheal diseases in Ciego de Ávila, Cuba, increased by 86% compared to March 2023, the official newspaper Invasor reported this Monday. Despite the excessive increase, which has translated into a worrying increase “in hospital care,” the epidemiological authorities of the region assure that the cases are within the estimates for this period of the year, which is why they estimate that the situation is still located in the “safety zone.”

“Even though epidemiologically speaking we are not in a critical situation, we do have to worry and take measures, especially at home,” José Luis López, deputy director of Epidemiology at the Provincial Hygiene Center, clarified to the newspaper.

As explained, the institution establishes four categories to monitor the progress of these diseases on the Island: success zone, when there are fewer cases than estimated; safety zone, when the estimate is met; of alarm, when cases increase; and epidemic, when cases exceed what was expected. For “this time of year,” the manager insisted, “cases have increased, but within limits.”

Invasor, however, was not satisfied with López’s statements and stressed that months ago the newspaper highlighted the increase in annual cases in the province, which as of September 2023 exceeded 1,000, at a rate of 37 per week in that month and with “emphasis on pediatric ages.” The figure exceeded the number of cases of the same period in 2022 by 71.2%. With such clear warnings, even if it is a “seasonal increase,” even the official media questions whether the authorities could have been able to prevent a greater increase this year.

“In all municipalities, except Chambas and Bolivia, cases of diarrheal diseases have increased and the highest incidence is in children under 15 years of age, and, among them, infants up to one year of age, which sets off the alarms due to the risks of dehydration in that age group,” adds López.

As for the causes, the director points out an evident increase in “intestinal parasitism” in a large part of the patients suffering from these conditions. “In the studies that have been done, more than 38% of the samples analyzed have been positive for protozoa (parasites), and in some cases salmonella, which causes salmonellosis, a common bacterial disease has been isolated that affects the intestines, and can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps,” he says.

In this sense, explains López, outbreaks of diarrheal diseases escape the hands of health institutions, since many of these parasites and bacteria are found mainly in water or in the food itself, so it is up to other authorities to verify, for example, the quality of drinking water.

The poor water service in most of the country, however, forces a large part of citizens to use the water they have at their disposal, whether from cisterns with stagnant liquid, polluted dams and rivers, or wells that do not meet the quality parameters for consumption. Added to this are the constant blackouts suffered by the Island, which have intensified during the last week, and which make it difficult to refrigerate food.

Last December, the official press reported an outbreak of leptospirosis in the eastern provinces, another of the diseases generally associated with unsanitary cities and the alarming presence of rodents. The gigantic garbage dumps that the cities of the Island exhibit, denouced to this newspaper at that time by a Havana woman, are the main cause of the increase in this disease.

The authorities, however, once again limited themselves to blaming the population for not going to the hospitals in time to be treated, and did not offer a clear explanation for the increase in cases.

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