Nearly a dozen people diagnosed with malaria are hospitalized in Cienfuegos

File photo of government fumigators as they prepare to spray homes for mosquitos in Havana, Cuba.
File photo of government fumigators as they prepare to spray homes for mosquitos in Havana, Cuba. AP

About a dozen people are hospitalized at the Gustavo Aldereguía Lima hospital in Cienfuegos after being diagnosed with malaria, which was detected in Rodas, a municipality in southern central Cuba.

The disease is caused by plasmodium, a parasite that is transmitted to humans by the bite of a female genus anopheles mosquito. It is potentially deadly and affects large areas across the globe.

“Sanitation work is being carried out. They have eliminated the water lilies in the Damují River and we are in the middle of a campaign of intense fumigation in the streets,” said a nurse at the Rodas clinic who declined to give her name to the independent press for fear of reprisals.

“This is something you can’t talk about unofficially. The Health Minister, Roberto Morales Ojeda, has visited the province several times in recent weeks,” says the nurse.

This is something you can’t talk about unofficially.

Cuban nurse

Morales, born in Rodas, previously served as director of the Municipal Unit of Hygiene and Epidemiology of that municipality and municipal director of Health in Rodas and Cienfuegos.

According to one former Rodas resident who now lives in Miami, alarm has spread across the population, which has about 30,000 inhabitants.

“Relatives call and talk about the situation the population is facing, but when you check press reports you do not find any information,” said the former resident.

Malaria is an acute febrile illness. The first symptoms, which include fever, a severe headache, chills and vomiting, begin a week after the mosquito bite.

According to medical literature, if the disease is not treated within the first 24 hours, some cases of malaria, such as that propagated by the parasite plasmodium falciparum, can be aggravated, often leading to death.

Children may have symptoms such as severe anemia, which could affect the brain. In adults, multiple organs can be affected.

For the spread of malaria to occur, mosquitoes must have an area to reproduce, especially in puddles and areas with fresh clean water. Rodas is known as “the village of the Damují” because of the river’s prominence in the city. The tributary, which flows into the Bay of Cienfuegos, can serve as an ideal site for the propagation of the mosquitoes.

This article is part of an agreement between 14ymedio and el Nuevo Herald.