Cuba Shows Success at Containing Zika – But at a Cost?

Cuba Shows Success at Containing Zika – But at a Cost?
Science & Medicine

The Zika virus may be sweeping Central and South America, but Cuba’s efforts at declaring war on the virus seem to be winning (at least against the virus). Six months ago, Raul Castro organized a nationwide campaign against the mosquito-borne illness, complete with intensive mosquito spraying.

After the first case on the island nation was discovered in March, Castro militarized the battle on Zika and sent 9,000 soldiers to fumigate. Every home in the country was sprayed in order to prevent further spreading of the virus. [1]

So far, only three people have contracted Zika within Cuba’s borders, and 30 Cubans have caught the virus while abroad.

Cuba has become one of the very few countries in the Western Hemisphere to stop the spread of the virus, and health officials around the world are now watching and waiting to see if the virus will stay at bay, or if other issues might arise from the spraying.

In November, US government scientists and researchers will travel to Havana to discuss methods implemented in the reduction of the Zika virus, as well as animal-borne diseases in general. This will be the first time a meeting like this has taken place in decades, and the first conference of its kind since the US and Cuba have re-established diplomatic relations.

While medical experts say that other countries can learn from the way Cuba has been able to curb the disease, others state that the success of Cuba’s campaign is partly down to its unique form of government.

Dr. Cristian Morales, the World Health Organization’s representative in Cuba, stated:

“Cuba’s response has been strong and effective. It has to do with the capacity to organise the population. Applying it to other countries, other contexts, would be extremely difficult.” [1]

Possibly more Harm than Good?

Needless to say, we need to consider the risks and benefits to controlling zika in such as way. Here in the states, airplanes have been flying over Miami spraying naled, a neurotoxic insecticide which kills adult mosquitoes. Some scientists are warning that naled may be more dangerous than the Zika virus itself. So while controlling the virus is in fact important, there are other factors to consider in the big picture.

So far, 1,600 people in the US have been infected with Zika through travel and 45 countries have confirmed that Zika has been circulating within their borders. [2]

In many cases, individuals infected with Zika are asymptomatic (not showing symptoms), but it can be devastating to pregnant women. The virus can cause microcephaly, a severe birth defect that can cause significant delays in children, both mentally and physically. Zika is also associated with Guillain-Barre syndrome, which can be associated with an increased risk of paralyzation.

Sources:

[1] Today Online

[2] Tele Sur TV

Featured image sourced and modified: (IN CUBA TODAY)