Cholera cases reported in Cuba, health officials say

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HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) — Cuban authorities said Tuesday the infectious and sometimes deadly disease cholera had struck in Havana, after declaring in August that an earlier cholera outbreak had been wiped out.

A statement from the Cuban Health Ministry said so far there were 51 confirmed cases in the new outbreak. The statement did not say if anyone had died from the disease, a bacterial infection of the small intestine, which causes severe diarrhea and vomiting in infected people.

The Health Ministry statement Tuesday said the latest outbreak appeared to be caused by a food vendor who had not followed proper sanitary procedures.

Residents in some of the neighborhoods where the outbreak occurred told CNN that food stands had been closed down and stations set up at the entrances to buildings for people to disinfect their shoes.

The statement said that health workers were in the “extermination phase” of fighting the disease in the Cuban capital, which has a population of 2 million people.

Cholera, according to the World Health Organization, still infects between 3 million and 5 million people each year, killing between 100,000 and 120,000.

But until 2012, Cuba had not seen a cholera outbreak for more than 100 years. It is still not clear how the disease was reintroduced to the country.

By Patrick Oppmann

The-CNN-Wire/Atlanta/