Zika Virus Outbreak News: First Case Of Zika Transmitted In Cuba

By Vlad Tverdohleb, Parent Herald March 17, 05:13 am

On March 15, Tuesday night, Cuban officials announced the first detected case of the Zika virus transmitted on the island. The first confirmed case of Zika virus transmitted inside the country has ended Cuba's status as one of the last nations in the hemisphere without domestic cases of the disease.

Previously, Cuba had reported several cases of Zika in people who had traveled in Venezuela and other countries with Zika virus outbreaks.  According to Reuters, Cuban state media announced on Tuesday that a 21-year-old Havana woman was diagnosed with the virus.

The young women had not traveled outside Cuba. After accusing fatigue, headaches and other symptoms, her blood tested positive for Zika on Monday. The woman is still hospitalized at the moment.

The patient in Tuesday's case lives in a Central Havana. This area and other neighborhoods in the Cuban capital city are filled with pools of standing water, piles of uncollected trash and decaying buildings.

President Raul Castro has called on the citizens to practice trash collection and fumigation. The Zika fight in Cuba has turned into a test of the communist government's ability to mobilize its people. The communist government in the country used to have a legendary ability to marshal the entire nation behind various efforts, ranging from disease prevention to civil defense.

So far, Cuban authorities have mobilized more than 9,000 police, soldiers and university students into an effort to prevent a Zika epidemic by fumigating breeding grounds of mosquitoes and draining areas with  stagnant water.

In recent days, teams of green-clad soldiers are out on Havana's streets to fumigate houses with mosquito-killing fog. According to Medical Express, fumigators no longer accept requests to spray some other day or excuses of allergies.

The medical community investigates the Zika virus as a possible agent in cases of microcephaly and Guillain-Barre. Microcephaly leads to babies born with brain damage and unusually small heads while Guillain-Barre is a rare medical condition that can lead sometimes to temporary paralysis.

The announcement of the first Zika case transmitted in Cuba comes at a moment of intense international attention to the country. On Sunday, U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to make the first presidential visit to the country after in nearly 90 years.

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