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Worldwide Medical Insurance News: Cuba faces renewed cholera outbreak

Expatriates living in Cuba should be aware that 51 cases of cholera have been confirmed in Havana by the Public Health Ministry.

This follows an earlier outbreak in Cuba last year which saw 417 people contract the disease and three people die as a result.

That outbreak began in the eastern city of Manzanillo in the Granma province and it is thought that new cases may be a result of destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Most recently, instances of the disease were reported in the Cerro neighbourhood of Havana, spreading to other areas such as the Playa part of the city where many of the foreign embassies are located.

Cholera is a waterborne disease and people become infected with it when they drink contaminated water or eat tainted food.

It causes rapid and serious dehydration, which can lead to death if it is not detected in time to receive treatment.

The main symptoms of cholera are diarrhoea, abdominal cramps and low urine output, meaning that treating the disease focuses on replacing fluid and electrolytes in the body.

This can be done orally or through an intravenous drip, with antibiotics such as tetracycline or doxycline also used to speed up recovery.

Expats that think they may have contracted cholera are advised to seek medical attention immediately and special cholera wards have been opened at some hospitals.

The Muñoz Ward at the Salvador Allende Hospital has now been deemed exclusively for cholera patients in an attempt to prevent the disease's spread.

It is important to take precautions against cholera, which until last year had been eradicated in Cuba, including eliminating standing water.

Cuban healthcare is considered very good with doctors trained in the country found all over South America, working in hospitals and clinics.

All health services in Cuba are government-run and the country has a good record of dealing with outbreaks and epidemics.

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