HAVANA, Cuba-President Fidel Castro discussed a recent outbreak of dengue fever in Cuba this week during a televised speech.
Castro reported two deaths and more than 1,600 infections since November of the mosquito-borne illness. Dengue fever is fatal in 5% of infections, however it can cause serious hemorrhagic fever. Other symptoms include headache and rashes on the palms and feet.
Dengue is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which prefers to feed during the day. The virus has four serotypes, DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4, meaning a person potentially can have four different infections for the same disease. Dengue is in the genus Flavivirus and was first detected in epidemics during 1779-1780 in Asia, Africa, and North America.
A global pandemic of the disease has hit southeastern Asia since World War II, with infection rates increasing annually. By 1975, Dengue had become the leading cause of death of children in the region.
Castro said the Cuban government has made a concerted effort to destroy mosquito breeding grounds. Buildings have been fumigated and garbage has been cleared from the streets. Havana hospitals have also reportedly created isolation rooms for those infected.
The last Cuban outbreak of dengue was reportedly killed 158 people in 1981.
Information from www.reuters.com, previous Infection Control Today reports