July 25, 2005

Heat may be factor in Cuban children's deaths

HAVANA, Cuba (AP) -- Cuba's health officials called on Havana residents Monday to be especially careful with hygiene after eight children died in recent weeks of illnesses aggravated by tropical heat and humidity.

A communique by the Public Health Ministry published in the Communist Party daily Granma appeared aimed at dispelling persistent rumors circulating in Havana in recent days about child sicknesses and deaths supposedly caused by epidemics and contaminated medicine.

The ministry denied that anyone died because of supposedly contaminated medicines.

It said the deaths were caused by severe respiratory and gastronomical ailments worsened by heat and humidity as well as faulty water and electricity service after Hurricane Dennis struck the island this month.

"The Public Health Ministry calls on the population to increase hygiene measures and work the measures undertaken by [governmental] agencies," the statement said.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.