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    Cuba Sending 9,000 Soldiers to Fight Zika Virus
    By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ AND MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN, ASSOCIATED PRESS HAVANA —
    Feb 22, 2016, 5:28 PM ET

    Cuban President Raul Castro announced Monday that he is dispatching
    9,000 soldiers to help keep the Zika virus out of Cuba, calling on the
    entire country to fight the mosquito that carries the disease.

    In a rare front-page message on the state-run newspaper Granma, Castro
    said Cuba’s fight to prevent the arrival of the virus had been hampered
    by “the inadequate technical quality” of efforts against the mosquito,
    insufficient work to clean up areas where the mosquito propagates and
    poor weather conditions.

    He wrote that the active and reserve military personnel and 200 national
    police officials would reinforce the Public Health Ministry’s efforts to
    spray neighborhoods for mosquitoes and eliminate breeding spots. He said
    Cuba has yet to report a case of Zika, which is suspected of causing
    birth defects in Brazil.

    Cuba prides itself on its system of free, neighborhood-level health
    care, which has included intensive efforts to limit the Aedes aegypti
    mosquito that also carries the tropical diseases dengue and chikungunya.
    Those efforts include door-to-door fumigation of homes and offices by
    young army recruits and civilian workers who are supposed to maintain a
    careful record of places they’ve fumigated.

    Castro’s didn’t elaborate on his criticism of anti-mosquito efforts, but
    the young workers can frequently be seen marking locations as fumigated
    even when they encounter no one home, or the residents say they are
    allergic or asthmatic to the chemical fog used in the anti-mosquito effort.

    The military is widely perceived as more effective and disciplined than
    Cuba’s civilian state workers, who earn about $25 a month on average.

    “Once again, the real protagonist in the fight against the menace of
    epidemics is our people, so it’s essential to be able to count on their
    conscious participation in order for this important and necessary work
    to be successful,” Castro wrote.

    ————

    Andrea Rodriguez on Twitter: twitter.com/ARodriguezAP

    Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: twitter.com/mweissenstein

    Source: Cuba Sending 9,000 Soldiers to Fight Zika Virus – ABC News –
    abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/cuba-sending-9000-soldiers-fight-zika-virus-37110217

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