On Wednesday Cuba announced the detection of the first Zika virus in the island. The virus made its entrance as a Venezuelan doctor arrived in the country and came down with the illness a day later.
Although Cuba had been one of the last nations in the Western Hemisphere that could escape the disease until now, there was no mention of any case of Zika transmitted inside the island, according to the Health Ministry.
The virus was diagnosed in a 28-year-old Venezuelan doctor on Monday, a day after arriving at the island alongside her colleagues, the statement said. It’s worth noticing that her husband had been diagnosed with Zika two months ago as well as her brother who got diagnosed only two weeks before she traveled. The Venezuelan woman was staying in a dorm in the Artemisa province in western Cuba alongside 37 of her colleagues.
The Venezuelan doctor who landed on Cuba for a post-graduate course in gastroenterology remains hospitalized at the “Pedro Kouri” Institute of Tropical Medicine in Havana. While the other 37 doctors who arrived with the Venezuelan woman are quarantined while there are being monitored. In spite of this, there are no symptoms suggesting Zika virus shown in any other doctors, said the Health Ministry.
Viruses thrive on mosquitoes
The virus’ rapid expansion is remarkably aggressive, as it has affected more than 20 Latin American countries. For these severe circumstances, President Raul Castro is taking no chances as he announced the country’s militarization in order to eradicate the disease-carrying mosquitoes. The Aedes aegypti mosquito has infected thousands of Cubans on previous occasions with the dengue virus and more recently, the chikungunya disease that causes high fever and brutal joint pain.
However, the task to spray homes and businesses has failed to properly sterilize the area as Cubans frequently claimed allergies or asthma caused by fumigation. Now, the troops designated to terminate the mosquito outbreak will have the authority to fine anyone resisting the fumigation or blocking fog-spraying trucks. A radical measure was taken by President Castro considering that no Zika case has been reported on the island so far.
Yet, considering that the Zika virus has rapidly spread through Latin America and the Caribbean, The World Health Organization estimates the virus could eventually affect up to four million people in the region. As a result, the actions taken by Cuban President Raul Castro might not seem so radical if the health of millions of people is at stake. The country’s government is expected to successfully fumigate the existing gaps in the insurgent areas as it has stepped up mosquito eradication efforts.
Source: The New York Times