TUCSON, Ariz., Aug. 22, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning pregnant women to avoid South Miami, Florida, and Zika has arrived in New York, Cuba claims to have it under control, states AAPS Executive Director Jane Orient, M.D. Additionally, its public health minister said that dengue, which is carried by the same Aedes mosquito, had been all but eliminated.
This is all the more remarkable in that Zika is spreading rapidly in nearby Puerto Rico, and the U.S. declared a state of emergency there last week, she noted. Besides the threat of microcephaly in babies born to infected mothers, at least 30 people in Puerto Rico have had Guillain-Barré, a usually temporary but potentially fatal paralysis, after a case of Zika.
As of June 28, there were no locally transmitted cases reported in Cuba since Mar 15. Recently, there have been a few cases, and the CDC has issued a warning, Dr. Orient states. As of Aug 11, there were three, compared with 8,776 in Puerto Rico, according to an article in the journal Nature.
“We need to learn what Cuba is doing differently,” Dr. Orient states. “It reportedly took only 4 months to stop a 1981 dengue outbreak.”
Visitors from Zika-infected countries are screened at the airport. There is intensive neighborhood surveillance for people with symptoms. People are heavily fined if mosquitoes are found to be breeding on their property. And then there’s the “mosquito gun,” which looks like a large hair dryer and sprays a dense white cloud of fumigant, Dr. Orient states.
The Nature article does not disclose what pesticides are being used, she notes. Trucks and airplanes are also photographed spraying fog. There are scary claims that “Cuba Sprays Poison on Its People.” And bloggers speculate that DDT, banned in 1970, is being used. Others say pyrethrins are more likely. Workers are seen spraying at resorts—without wearing masks.
“If Cuba’s claims are true, the CDC needs to find out and disclose what Cuba is using with so much more success than others,” Dr. Orient states. She believes DDT is a strong possibility. Studies in 1990 showed it to cost two to 23 times less than substitutes. Also, it is much less toxic. “DDT trucks used to spray the streets of Houston,” she said.
“If we intend to stop this disease, we must control the Aedes mosquito,” she concludes.
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties, founded in 1943 to preserve private medicine and the patient-physician relationship.