January 27, 2008
Q: I will be visiting Cuba as part of a cultural exchange approved by
the U.S. government. Besides not drinking the water, are there any
health issues I should know about? — J.G., Los Altos, Calif.
A: Before leaving home, you should visit a health-care provider who
specializes in travel medicine to ask what precautions to take.
You can find a clinic at the Web site of the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention ( www.cdc.gov). Click on "Travelers' Health," then
"Travel Medicine Clinics."
One of the most common diseases that can be transmitted in tropical and
subtropical regions is dengue, which can produce fever, joint and muscle
pain, and rash. There's no vaccine, but you can reduce your risk by
using insect repellent containing at least 30 percent DEET, wearing
loose pants and long-sleeve shirts when outdoors, and keeping screens
shut and the air conditioning on.
• Don't drink tap water or consume drinks with ice cubes.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water (or use an alcohol-based
• Don't eat food sold by street vendors.
• Make sure the food you eat is fully cooked.
Michael Martinez writes for the San Jose Mercury News.
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