HAVANA, Cuba, Friday July 20, 2012 – Cuban authorities have suspended the traditional summer carnivals in the eastern cities of Bayamo and Manzanillo due to the outbreak of cholera in the region.
The annual celebrations, which were scheduled for August, were canceled “to avoid the spread of illnesses,” according to a Communist Party official in Granma province.
While the cholera situation is said to be under control, authorities were concerned about possible contagion of the “floating population” attracted by the carnivals, a source in the Bayamo municipal government said.
The outbreak came to light last month in Manzanillo, a city of more than 130,000 people that has accounted for the majority of the 158 cases of cholera reported by Cuba’s Public Health Ministry.
Three people have died so far, according to the official account.
The outbreak is easing and the few “isolated cases” of cholera in other parts of Cuba have been traced to people who were infected in Manzanillo, the ministry said in its latest bulletin, released last Saturday.
Authorities in Granma have banned the use of wells, distributed a chemical compound to purify water and called on residents to boil water before drinking, cook food thoroughly and wash their hands often.
Cuba’s last cholera epidemic was in 1882 and the current outbreak is the first since 1959, the year Fidel Castro toppled strongman Fulgencio Batista.