Vacation in Cuba at your own risk: Third-world diseases and infections await oblivious travelers

As if violent street crime were not enough, John Suarez has more warnings for blissfully uninformed tourists considering a vacation in Cuba’s slave plantation paradise.

Via Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Tourists and travel to Cuba: What the travel agencies don’t tell you about health and hygiene

In July 2013 an Italian tourist returned from Cuba with severe renal failure due to Cholera. New York high school teacher Alfredo Gómez contracted cholera during a family visit to Havana during the summer of 2013 and was billed $4,700 from the government hospital. A total of 12 tourists have been identified who have contracted cholera in Cuba.
Cholera patients in Cuba (CNN)

Cuba is normally safe as long as you are reasonably careful about what you eat and drink. The common travel-related diseases, such as dysentery and hepatitis, are acquired by the consumption of contaminated food and water. While Cuba has a relatively low incidence of HIV any visitors should take obvious precautions if engaging in intimate relations on the island. Mosquito born illnesses are not a significant concern on most of Cuba although you should be aware when there is a periodic outbreak of dengue. Sand flies can be a serious irritant on certain beaches but this is to be expected as the price of paradise! Tap water in Cuba is not considered as reasonably safe to drink. Most Cuban households will boil water before drinking and foreigners should follow this procedure unless you have good quality purification filters. – Visit Cuba FAQs

Compared to the rosy descriptions offered on crime in Cuba by the travel industry, the advisories above are a little better but still there is still a lot that is left out. First, the claim that Cuba has a low incidence of HIV is based on government provided statistics. Secondly, there is no mention of the Cholera out break that was announced in July of 2012 and is still ongoing across the island with official reports emerging from Camaguey, Granma, Guantanamo, Havana, and Santiago de Cuba.

This cholera outbreak needs to be placed in context. The current Cuban government, in power over the past 55 years, claims to be a healthcare super power. The current cholera outbreak is the first one in Cuba in 130 years. That is to say that the last cholera epidemic was while Cuba was still a Spanish colony. During Cuba’s Republican era beginning in 1902 sanitation and hygiene were decent enough that cholera was not an issue.

Continue reading HERE.