Cholera outbreak hits Cuba

July 7, 2012 at 3:41 PM

HAVANA, July 7 (UPI) -- A cholera outbreak in eastern Cuba is far worse than officials admit, dissidents say, killing 15 people and packing hospitals with the sick.

Calixto R. Martinez, an independent journalist in Havana, told The Miami Herald he had been able to get information from health workers and residents in the Manzanillo area. Martinez, writing on a Miami-based blog, Cafe Fuerte or Strong Coffee, put the death toll at 15.

The Public Health Ministry reported Tuesday the epidemic was under control with no more than three deaths and 50 people made ill.

Martinez said Enrique Pineiro, a resident of Manzanillo, told him the government had barred the use of the word "cholera." Doctors were reportedly using the term "acute respiratory insufficiency" on death certificates.

The last reported outbreak of cholera in Cuba was more than a century ago. But the Herald said the healthcare system has been suffering since the collapse of the Soviet Union ended subsidies to the island nation.

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