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An endless campaign against a deadly disease

The danger posed by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the main vector of dengue fever, and the conditions that lead to its reproduction are very well known, especially in tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world, where it is found predominantly in urban and semi-urban areas.Vector control is implemented using environmental management and chemical methods.

Proper solid waste disposal and improved water storage practices, including covering containers to prevent access to egg laying female mosquitoes, are among methods that are encouraged through community-based prevention programs. However, despite a massive national effort in recent years we still hear people talk about possible sources of infection and leaky pipes and rubble pile breading grounds remain.

Cuba has implemented a national surveillance system to detect and wipe out these vectors, but when there is negligence on behalf of the population it has a negative impact on the effort.

The danger is year round, but more so in the summer, when heat and humidity favor the appearance of Aedes in our homes or work places. That is why community cooperation and systematic actions are a must.

The deputy director of the 26th of July Polyclinic in Havanas Playa municipality, Emilio Carredano, told the press that many people scorn prevention. We have enough workers to eradicate mosquitoes, pointed out Carredano, in order to locate sources of infection, places where they may possibly breed, and then carry out the elimination process with chemicals and fumigation. However, the official commented that there are still people who dont understand the importance of the "nuisance" this supposedly causes them.

"The existence of 14 water pipe leaks in our area represents a threat since they may become mosquito breeding grounds," said Carredano. He added, "Not long ago we detected a source of infection and we rapidly dealt with it to control the situation. We fumigate 100 meters any source we find. Prevention is the key to success."

"Work is ongoing and the results are reported daily to our municipal headquarters, but the effectiveness also depends on the efficiency of several institutions, which do not always respond quickly," he said.


Dengue viruses are transmitted to humans through the bites of infected female Aedes mosquitoes. The Mosquitoes generally acquire the virus while feeding on the blood of an infected person. After virus incubation for 8-10 days, an infected mosquito is capable of transmitting the virus, to susceptible individuals for the rest of its life.

There are two types of dengue -dengue fever and hemorrhaging dengue. Dengue fever is a severe, flu-like illness that affects infants, young children and adults, but seldom causes death. Hemorrhaging dengue fever is a potentially deadly complication that is characterized by high fever, hemorrhaging "often with enlargement of the liver and in severe cases, circulatory failure. The illness commonly begins with a sudden rise in temperature accompanied by facial flush and other non-specific symptoms of dengue fever.

Dengue is now endemic in more than 100 countries in Africa, the Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean, Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific. There are four distinct, but closely related viruses that cause this mosquito-borne infection which in recent years has become a major international public health concern. Recovery from infection by one provides lifelong immunity against that serotype but confers only partial and transient protection against subsequent infection by the other three.

In the last 50 years, incidence has increased 30-fold. Prior to 1970, only 9 countries had experienced cases of hemorrhaging dengue; since then the number has increased more than 4-fold and continues to rise.

Some 2,500 million people -- two fifths of the world's population -- are now at risk from dengue. The World Health Organization currently estimates there may be 50 million cases of dengue infection worldwide annually.

In recent years, Aedes albopictus, a secondary dengue vector in Asia, has become established in: the United States, several Latin American and Caribbean countries, in parts of Europe and in one African nation.

Source: By Katia Siberia García, Granma

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