Cuba Major infectious diseases
Factbook > Countries > Cuba > Demographics
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever (2013)
Definition: This entry lists major infectious diseases likely to be
encountered in countries where the risk of such diseases is assessed to
be very high as compared to the United States. These infectious diseases
represent risks to US government personnel traveling to the specified
country for a period of less than three years. The degree of risk is
assessed by considering the foreign nature of these infectious diseases,
their severity, and the probability of being affected by the diseases
present. The diseases listed do not necessarily represent the total
disease burden experienced by the local population.
The risk to an individual traveler varies considerably by the specific
location, visit duration, type of activities, type of accommodations,
time of year, and other factors. Consultation with a travel medicine
physician is needed to evaluate individual risk and recommend
appropriate preventive measures such as vaccines.
Diseases are organized into the following six exposure categories shown
in italics and listed in typical descending order of risk. Note: The
sequence of exposure categories listed in individual country entries may
vary according to local conditions.
food or waterborne diseases acquired through eating or drinking on the
Hepatitis A – viral disease that interferes with the functioning of the
liver; spread through consumption of food or water contaminated with
fecal matter, principally in areas of poor sanitation; victims exhibit
fever, jaundice, and diarrhea; 15% of victims will experience prolonged
symptoms over 6-9 months; vaccine available.
Hepatitis E – water-borne viral disease that interferes with the
functioning of the liver; most commonly spread through fecal
contamination of drinking water; victims exhibit jaundice, fatigue,
abdominal pain, and dark colored urine.
Typhoid fever – bacterial disease spread through contact with food or
water contaminated by fecal matter or sewage; victims exhibit sustained
high fevers; left untreated, mortality rates can reach 20%.
vectorborne diseases acquired through the bite of an infected arthropod:
Malaria – caused by single-cell parasitic protozoa Plasmodium;
transmitted to humans via the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito;
parasites multiply in the liver attacking red blood cells resulting in
cycles of fever, chills, and sweats accompanied by anemia; death due to
damage to vital organs and interruption of blood supply to the brain;
endemic in 100, mostly tropical, countries with 90% of cases and the
majority of 1.5-2.5 million estimated annual deaths occurring in
Dengue fever – mosquito-borne (Aedes aegypti) viral disease associated
with urban environments; manifests as sudden onset of fever and severe
headache; occasionally produces shock and hemorrhage leading to death in
5% of cases.
Yellow fever – mosquito-borne viral disease; severity ranges from
influenza-like symptoms to severe hepatitis and hemorrhagic fever;
occurs only in tropical South America and sub-Saharan Africa, where most
cases are reported; fatality rate is less than 20%.
Japanese Encephalitis – mosquito-borne (Culex tritaeniorhynchus) viral
disease associated with rural areas in Asia; acute encephalitis can
progress to paralysis, coma, and death; fatality rates 30%.
African Trypanosomiasis – caused by the parasitic protozoa Trypanosoma;
transmitted to humans via the bite of bloodsucking Tsetse flies;
infection leads to malaise and irregular fevers and, in advanced cases
when the parasites invade the central nervous system, coma and death;
endemic in 36 countries of sub-Saharan Africa; cattle and wild animals
act as reservoir hosts for the parasites.
Cutaneous Leishmaniasis – caused by the parasitic protozoa leishmania;
transmitted to humans via the bite of sandflies; results in skin lesions
that may become chronic; endemic in 88 countries; 90% of cases occur in
Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and Peru; wild and
domesticated animals as well as humans can act as reservoirs of infection.
Plague – bacterial disease transmitted by fleas normally associated with
rats; person-to-person airborne transmission also possible; recent
plague epidemics occurred in areas of Asia, Africa, and South America
associated with rural areas or small towns and villages; manifests as
fever, headache, and painfully swollen lymph nodes; disease progresses
rapidly and without antibiotic treatment leads to pneumonic form with a
death rate in excess of 50%.
Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever – tick-borne viral disease; infection
may also result from exposure to infected animal blood or tissue;
geographic distribution includes Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and
Eastern Europe; sudden onset of fever, headache, and muscle aches
followed by hemorrhaging in the bowels, urine, nose, and gums; mortality
rate is approximately 30%.
Rift Valley fever – viral disease affecting domesticated animals and
humans; transmission is by mosquito and other biting insects; infection
may also occur through handling of infected meat or contact with blood;
geographic distribution includes eastern and southern Africa where
cattle and sheep are raised; symptoms are generally mild with fever and
some liver abnormalities, but the disease may progress to hemorrhagic
fever, encephalitis, or ocular disease; fatality rates are low at about
1% of cases.
Chikungunya – mosquito-borne (Aedes aegypti) viral disease associated
with urban environments, similar to Dengue Fever; characterized by
sudden onset of fever, rash, and severe joint pain usually lasting 3-7
days, some cases result in persistent arthritis.
water contact diseases acquired through swimming or wading in freshwater
lakes, streams, and rivers:
Leptospirosis – bacterial disease that affects animals and humans;
infection occurs through contact with water, food, or soil contaminated
by animal urine; symptoms include high fever, severe headache, vomiting,
jaundice, and diarrhea; untreated, the disease can result in kidney
damage, liver failure, meningitis, or respiratory distress; fatality
rates are low but left untreated recovery can take months.
Schistosomiasis – caused by parasitic trematode flatworm Schistosoma;
fresh water snails act as intermediate host and release larval form of
parasite that penetrates the skin of people exposed to contaminated
water; worms mature and reproduce in the blood vessels, liver, kidneys,
and intestines releasing eggs, which become trapped in tissues
triggering an immune response; may manifest as either urinary or
intestinal disease resulting in decreased work or learning capacity;
mortality, while generally low, may occur in advanced cases usually due
to bladder cancer; endemic in 74 developing countries with 80% of
infected people living in sub-Saharan Africa; humans act as the
reservoir for this parasite.
aerosolized dust or soil contact disease acquired through inhalation of
aerosols contaminated with rodent urine:
Lassa fever – viral disease carried by rats of the genus Mastomys;
endemic in portions of West Africa; infection occurs through direct
contact with or consumption of food contaminated by rodent urine or
fecal matter containing virus particles; fatality rate can reach 50% in
respiratory disease acquired through close contact with an infectious
Meningococcal meningitis – bacterial disease causing an inflammation of
the lining of the brain and spinal cord; one of the most important
bacterial pathogens is Neisseria meningitidis because of its potential
to cause epidemics; symptoms include stiff neck, high fever, headaches,
and vomiting; bacteria are transmitted from person to person by
respiratory droplets and facilitated by close and prolonged contact
resulting from crowded living conditions, often with a seasonal
distribution; death occurs in 5-15% of cases, typically within 24-48
hours of onset of symptoms; highest burden of meningococcal disease
occurs in the hyperendemic region of sub-Saharan Africa known as the
“Meningitis Belt” which stretches from Senegal east to Ethiopia.
animal contact disease acquired through direct contact with local animals:
Rabies – viral disease of mammals usually transmitted through the bite
of an infected animal, most commonly dogs; virus affects the central
nervous system causing brain alteration and death; symptoms initially
are non-specific fever and headache progressing to neurological
symptoms; death occurs within days of the onset of symptoms.
Source: CIA World Factbook – Unless otherwise noted, information in this
page is accurate as of December 6, 2013
Source: Cuba Major infectious diseases – Demographics –