The city of Santiago de Cuba is experiencing an epidemiological nightmare right now with spread across the area of dengue fever and cholera. The problem has been exacerbated by deficiencies in water supply due to the severe drought affecting the country. The application of chlorine at building entrances and lime outside food establishments has changed the face of the eastern city.
The number of cholera cases is information that hospitals and polyclinics guard like a great secret. On the street there is talk of dozens of deaths from sudden overwhelming diarrhea.
In Palma Soriano, cars circulate every day with loudspeakers calling for strengthened hygienic measures. Washing of hands and not drinking soft drinks and prepared drinks (made with the local water), along with greater care in the handling of food, are some of the widespread suggestions.
Establishments such as the Youth Computer Club on Ferreiro Street have closed their doors to the public to avoid infection. On Monday afternoon the place was undergoing intense cleaning with chlorine. The closures of public places set of growing alarm in a population that is no detailed information about what is happening.
The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in the province, Jose Daniel Ferrer, explains that in the neighborhood of Altamira “in the areas where food is sold they are not selling anything that isn’t canned or bottled.” According to the activist, several “stalls selling food products were closed for ten days and they applied lime in the doorways” to avoid infection with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae .
Dengue fever is another problem. Hospitals are overflowing with suspected cases. The activist and contributor to this newspaper, Yosmany Mayeta, is one of those admitted to Juan Bruno Sayas General Hospital. At present, he is being given treatement while awaiting an analysis to confirm the diagnosis.
This morning, at the September 28 Policlinic, reports show a few admissions for suspected cholera in the last months. However, the name of the disease is not used in medical records and the patients are recorded as suffering from acute diarrhea.
So far the local authorities have not confirmed the information and the newspaper Sierra Maestra does not mention the presence of cholera in the area, although health warnings continue to be issued to the population by the Provincial Center of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Microbiology.