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    Cuba Reports 67 Cases of “Imported” Dengue

    HAVANA – The Cuban government reported Wednesday the existence of 67 cases of “imported” dengue fever on the island and said that Cuba is the only country where the disease is present but active transmission is not occurring.

    Juventud Rebelde newspaper cited the head of the Health Ministry’s Transmissible Diseases Department, Otto Reinaldo Pelaez, as saying that the 67 cases are “citizens who entered (the country) already sick,” and he insisted that “no indigenous cases of dengue (exist in Cuba) at this time.”

    Pelaez confirmed that of the 34 countries where people are currently sick, “the only one in which the transmission is not active is … Cuba,” and he added that the task of the authorities is to “cut off” that potential transmission.

    The provinces of Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo, Camaguey and La Habana are the ones where the greatest risk of transmission exists due to the presence of the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits the disease, he said.

    In recent weeks, Cuban health authorities have insisted that vigilance be increased to detect the disease and they have asked the public to step up efforts to keep illnesses like dengue, swine flu and hemorrhagic conjunctivitis under control.

    They have also called on Cubans to comply with health instructions and cooperate with workers who are participating in assorted health campaigns.

    Last year, the government denied the existence of a dengue epidemic after the existence of more than 50 cases on the island became known, and it said that most of those cases were also “imported.”

    In August 2006, Cuban authorities – without releasing any figures – reported to the Pan American Health Organization the existence of cases of hemorrhagic dengue, the much more serious and sometimes fatal version of the disease, but medical sources consulted by Efe said then that there were “thousands of cases.”

    The worst outbreak of dengue known to have affected Cuba occurred in 1981, when about 10,000 cases were reported and 158 people died from the disease.

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