Cuban government confirms 85 cholera cases

There have been 85 cases of cholera confirmed in Cuba since the beginning of an outbreak on the island's eastern half last week.

A Cuban official confirmed the number of cases, but said the death toll remained at three, despite independent reports that placed the number of deaths at up to 15. The three confirmed fatalities occurred in the southeastern town of Manzanillo, according to BBC.

As many as five cases of the waterborne illness have been unofficially reported in Havana. Cuban dissidents in Guantanamo, near the eastern end of the island, reported an outbreak of cholera-like cases in a village located at the edge of the U.S. naval base, according to the Boston Herald.

The state-owned television station in Granma province, where the illness was first seen, is urging residents to avoid traveling outside the area. Trucks equipped with loudspeakers are telling residents to boil their water and wash their hands often.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not issued a special travel notice on Cuba, but U.S. Representative Ileana Lehtinen (R-Florida) warned that visiting the island may put travelers at risk of contracting cholera.

There is speculation that the source of the outbreak may be linked to the cholera epidemic in nearby Haiti. Hundreds of Cuban medical professionals have traveled to Haiti since the start the epidemic in 2010, according to BBC.