Cuba confirms deadly cholera outbreak

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Three people have died and 53 more are infected in a rare outbreak of cholera in south-east Cuba, officials have confirmed.

Communist Party newspaper Granma said a number of wells suspected to be the source of the outbreak had been closed.

The health ministry has dismissed reports of a lack of medicine.

Health officials said they had "all the necessary resources to provide adequate attention to patients" and that the situation was "under control".

They said they had taken a series of measures, including taking samples of water and adding chlorine to purify it, to combat the outbreak.

About 1,000 people have received medical attention so far. Most of them were from the coastal town of Manzanillo in the south-east of Cuba.

Analysis

Although cholera was all but eliminated in Cuba shortly after the Cuban revolution in 1959, doctors here are highly experienced in treating the disease.

Hundreds have worked, and continue to work, with cholera patients in Haiti, where tens of thousands of people were infected in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.

Several hundred medical professionals from eastern Granma province, including 400 nurses, are among those who have been deployed to Haiti.

Officials said they believed those infected had drunk water contaminated after a period of heavy rains and high temperatures in the area.

They said the number of reported cases was now falling.

The health ministry has said this is the first reported cholera outbreak since soon after the 1959 revolution. The last cholera epidemic in Cuba ended in 1882.

The BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Havana says locals have told her health officials had been visiting homes and checking food and water supplies to try and establish the source of the outbreak.

Our correspondent spoke to a guest-house owner who said local radio had been broadcasting information about the importance of personal hygiene and extra care in food preparation, but that the official announcements had only spoken of a diarrhoea outbreak, without mentioning cholera.

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