01/23/13 - Windsor Star (blog) - Travellers to Cuba struck by illness
Barry Renaud has sworn off Cuba.
On Jan. 17, while returning to Amherstburg from the Caribbean country, he
started throwing up, had stomach cramps and diarrhea. Renaud, a
66-year-old retiree, spent much of the trip home on the airplane in the
"I refused the meal on the plane, I had to," he said. "I was really out of
it. I was lucky I got home considering the shape I was in."
In talking with the passengers sitting around them, one woman said four
of her six travelling companions were sick. The man sitting in front of
Renaud was ill during his stay in Cuba, bed-ridden for a day.
Renaud's wife Maureen fell ill the next day on Jan. 18. She couldn't
swallow even a couple of sips of water without her stomach churning.
Initially she was unable to take medication needed for a medical condition
because she couldn't keep water down. It took 12 hours before she could
take her medicine.
Travel Health Notice
The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued a low-key advisory about a
cholera outbreak in Cuba, but says most travellers are at low risk of
contracting the intestinal illness.
To date, tests have confirmed 51 cases of cholera.
"This is the best morning I've had," Renaud said Tuesday, four days after
he returned. He will see a doctor on Thursday.
The travellers visited the Varadero region of Cuba and stayed at the Melai
Las Antillas, a four-star resort. No visitors to the resort said they were
sick in reviews posted on tripadvisor.ca the past two weeks.
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has no reports of Canadians
returning ill from Cuba. Sunwing, the airline and travel tour company
Renaud took, has no reports of sick tourists, said Daryl McWilliams,
vice- president of sales and marketing.
"We checked Veradaro first to see if we've received emails," he said. "We
haven't. That doesn't mean people won't write."
The health unit will only know of an illness if a sick person goes to a
physician and gets a positive test for an illness like cholera, which
doctors have to report, said Theresa Marentette, director of health
"We've not received any reports or complaints about travel to Cuba," she
Three local travel agencies said they have heard no stories from customers
who have returned from Cuba recently about being sick.
A year ago, dozens of Canadians returned ill from Cuba suffering from
norovirus. The symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
While trying to recover, Renaud contacted Telehealth Ontario, which
advised the couple to eat apple sauce, rice and pasta to get nourishment
and drink Gatorade for hydration.
Barry and Maureen Renaud of Amherstburg, Ont. are still feeling the
ill-effects from a recent vacation in Varadero, Cuba, January 21, 2013.
(NICK BRANCACCIO/The Windsor Star)
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