Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

February 9, 1999, Cuba Free Press.

CUBAN GOVERNMENT SUSPECTS PESTICIDE IN MANGUITOS' DEATHS By Odalys Curbelo y Efrén Martínez Pulgarón, Cuba Free Press.

HAVANA - A government reporter with Radio Rebelde speaking from Matanzas said, "Possibly an insecticide or other pesticide was mixed - by some unknown manner - into the batch of materials from which the frituras (hamburger-like patties) were made." He was discussing the 14 deaths that occurred this past weekend as a result of an alimentary contamination among as many as 63 people who ate frituras at a dining place in Manguitos, a community in the municipality of Calimete, in the province of Matanzas.

"There are suspicions," the reporter continued, "that the causal agent came from the family of the 'clorados,' an insecticide that can produce an acute clinical picture: respiratory paralysis, abdominal pains and nausea."

The radio report from the site said the 48 patients who remain in the hospital as of today are progressing satisfactorily and their condition remains stable. No new cases have been reported.

Among the six children who remain under special care, at least two are out of danger and should soon be able to leave the hospital. One girl, Amarilis Sotolongo González, 11, was transferred to a general ward after an intubation that enabled her to breathe and overcome her partial paralysis, according to the reports.

The government program of Radio National News at one p.m. on Feb. 9 said that of the patients still in the hospital, nine were in "grave" and three in "critical" condition. The other 36 are under observation in a ward with the prognosis of "improved."

Referring to comments by the Matanzas public health director, a Radio Rebelde broadcaster said, "These cases occur when contaminated containers are used for purposes other than for chemicals or when mixtures are handled irresponsibly as in the transportation of certain products found in the black market."

There also have been reports that this was not the first case of pesticide poisoning that has occurred in Matanzas and elsewhere throughout the island. Other cases have been reported but not as many as in this situation.

The provincial laboratories in Matanzas and the Columbus Hygiene and Epidemiology Laboratory in Havana as well as national laboratories on toxicology, legal medicine and criminal activities have been studying materials taken from the Manguitas scene in hopes of being able to specify which chemical product was involved and how it poisoned people's alimentary systems.

Officials indicated they hoped to know results of such investigations by Feb. 10.

Odalys Curbelo y Efrén Martínez Pulgarón, Cuba Free Press.

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