MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A health advisory has been issued for all U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Cuba after an outbreak of cholera in eastern Cuba.
The advisory was issued by the U.S. Interests Section in Havana after the The Panamerican Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert noting the presence of cholera in Cuba and confirming that foreign travelers have contracted cholera during recent trips to Cuba.
“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,” according to a statement by the U.S. Interests Section.
At Miami International Airport, spokesman Mark Henderson said travelers to Cuba need to take the advisory seriously.
“Citizens need to be aware that if they’re going over to Cuba there seems to be a potential for an outbreak over there of cholera and take the necessary precautions,” said Henderson.
In the international arrivals area Valentina Perez, who was waiting for someone arriving from Cuba, said she hadn’t heard about the outbreak.
“I didn’t know,” said Perez. “I didn’t know anything about it.”
Eating or drinking fecally contaminated food or water is the main risk factor. Unsterilized water, food from street vendors, raw fish dishes and inadequately cooked food – like steamed) shellfish – are common sources of infection.
The health advisory urges travellers to follow public health recommendations including safe food and water precautions and frequent hand washing to help prevent cholera infection.
Portia Siegelbaum, with the CBS bureau in Havana, reports the the Cuba’s government has said little about the outbreak. However, they have run public service announcements on television urging people to boil water because of gastrointestinal illnesses causing diarrhea and vomiting.
The Cuban Ministry of Public Health has also urged people to practice good sanitary measures associated with personal hygiene, water and food.