Monday, July 13, 2009

H1N1 Flu in El Salvador

I am currently in El Salvador, and one of the things I noticed right away was the amount of attention being paid to H1N1 flu. From the screening by thermal cameras of arriving international travelers, to the signs in many locations about how to avoid the spread of the flu, it is clear that a prevention effort is in full swing. A report in La Prensa today states that the number of cases in the country has risen to 379. Three children have died from the disease. Various schools have been closed. The bishops of the Roman Catholic church and Lutheran church have talked to the press about possible closings of churches if the health authorities deem it necessary.

All this is a little strange to someone coming from Wisconsin, with a similar population to El Salvador, where we have more than 2000 confirmed cases of the H1N1 flu and we have learned to live with the fact that it is widespread but the symptoms are not severe. Where El Salvador has increased risk is the weakness of its healthcare system to deal with illnesses of almost any type.

16 comments:

Gatofilo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gatofilo said...

Regarding the worldwide H1N1 Flu pandemic we are now facing, here in Wisconsin the key focus has been on testing and above all, on early detection and ”prevention."

We are repeatedly reminded by our health care professionals to wash our hands well and often. We should also try to avoid crowded and enclosed areas, and keep at least a six pace distance between ourselves and others.

In many countries such as El Salvador, people do not accustom or readily seek medical attention for what they may consider to be nothing more than symptoms of a mild common cold or flu. This type of self diagnosis could easily lead to an overwhelmed health care system and a national catastrophe.

Mandatory school closings has been a positive step by health officials in Ell Salvador, but in the overall scale of things, this pandemic, besides overwhelming the health services of the country and if not controlled, could also have a devastating effect on business’ and public transportation, and threaten even more the already precarious and fragile national economy.

The World Health Organization warns of a second and more virulent variety of this flu being expected in the fall of this year, but we are also told that supposedly there will be sufficient vaccines available by then.

For now, we know that persons with respiratory ailments, the obese, pregnant women, and those suffering from diabetes are at a higher degree of risk than the general population.

Strangely though, this flu seems to attack different people, young and old, in different and unpredictable ways. Hopefully we will soon know more, and better understand this first plague of the 21st century.

humble.pie said...

gato you are a riot.

are you going to follow tim around like a great big longwinded shadow, preaching a sermon every time he posts up a news item.

Gatofilo said...

The World Health Organization said that it was starting to ship 2.4 million treatments of antiflu drugs to the 72 countries "most in need" on Tuesday.

The agency declined to name the countries, but said they included Mexico, which has been hardest hit by the outbreak with 590 laboratory-confirmed cases and 25 deaths, according to WHO figures.

Other countries included those that have been unable to afford building stockpiles of the drugs.

"Part of the stock will be dispatched today the 5th of May, from Geneva and Basel in Switzerland, Maryland in the U.S. and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates," said WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib.

The drugs are from a stock of 5 million treatments of Tamiflu that manufacturer Roche Holding AG donated to WHO in 2005 and 2006, she said.

Roche spokeswoman Martina Rupp in Basel said the company was starting work on the shipments at its Basel headquarters Tuesday.

"It is starting here and it's then distributed to the airports," and shipped on several planes, Rupp told The Associated Press.

Some 1.5 million treatments are stored at Roche's headquarters in Basel, she added. Roche is holding the same number of treatments for WHO in Maryland in the United States, Rupp said.

An additional 2 million treatments are stockpiled elsewhere by WHO, she said.

Each treatment consists of 10 capsules, administered two a day for five days.

She said she didn't know the destination countries because that was up to WHO.

"WHO is telling us where they want us to ship it, and that's what we do. We send it to that particular airport in a country," she added.

WHO on Tuesday raised its tally of confirmed human cases of swine flu to 1,124 from 1,025.

"All the new cases are from Canada," said Chaib.

The number of confirmed deaths remained at 26, she said.

The global body said 21 countries had reported laboratory-confirmed cases.

The United States had reported 286 cases and one death.

Canada had 140 cases, Spain had 54, Britain had 18, Germany had eight, New Zealand had six, France and Israel had four each, Italy and El Salvador had two each, according to the latest figures. Austria, Hong Kong, Costa Rica, Colombia, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, South Korea and Switzerland had one each.

As we can see from actual and known cases in El Salvador, these WHO statistics hardly tell the whole truth or present a complete and accurate up-to-date scenario.

Prevention starts at home, and is everyone's responsibility.

marcus said...

The majority of the cases are located in San Salvador, the capital, and are not widespread throughout the entire country. I live in Santo Domingo de Guzman, Sonsonate and haven't heard of anyone contracting the flu in the capital and bringing out here. Obviously, there are going to be more cases in the highly populated greater San Salvador metropolitan area than anywhere else in the country.

marcus said...

I live in Santo Domingo de Guzman, about 10km west of Sonsonate, and ever since the epidemic I have not heard of one case outside of the greater metropolitan area of San Salvador. It seems that the majority of the cases have been recorded in the capital and have not really affected the rest of the country.

Hector said...

I am traveling to E.S. with my kids in 3 weeks from Virginia. Should I be concerned. As you said, we've learned to live with the virus here in the states, it sounds pretty serious in E.S.

Gatofilo said...

To above Post...

My concerns would be, first the enclosed area of the airplane itself. But I guess my greatest concern would be actually "detecting symptoms" where health care isn't up to par, and the doctors and facilities aren't what you may be used to. On the other hand, there are seven million people living there and the great majority haven't been affected. So, I guess it's your call.

But my perspective my be different than yours, I'm in the catagory considered high risk.

marcus said...

Hector-
I wouldn't be concerned about coming to El Sal. I live here but not in the capital, however I go in 3 days a week and I have yet to meet anyone with the virus. If you're going to be at the beach or outside of the capital you should have no problem.

Gatofilo said...

While there, try the 'chiles rellenos' and the 'sopa de mondongo' and the pupusas de queso con loroca are fabulous too, with an ice cold Pilsener. Whenever I travel south, I always make a stop over in Salvador for those tasty foods, and to go out on the 'muelle' at La Libertad and buy some fresh fish. Baked 'Boca Colorada' is definitely hard to beat.

"Del mar el Mero, de la tierra el carnero." Makes sense to me...

Gatofilo said...

Authorities say dozens of immigrants being held at San Diego's Otay Mesa detention center are being quarantined because of fears over the swine flu.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say two cases of the H1N1 virus have been confirmed at the facility since last month. The individuals were treated and recovered.

ICE spokeswoman Lauren Mack says 72detainees have been segregated from the center's general population for observation because of possible contact with infected people.

Sean Riordan, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, says the observation practice is "devastating" to immigrants whose court hearings are being delayed even if they're not sick.

Tim said...

There are cases outside of San Salvador and the country is taking the issue very seriously. That's a good thing, but it does not make catching the flu any more serious. I would not worry about it. Take along hand sanitizer.

Gatofilo said...

Tim, there are certainly more than enough conflictimg stories and opinions to make one wonder. But ultimately it's a matter of choice and everyone must make their own decisions.

I heard one suposedly official report that there was going to be a generalized school closing countrywide, and that apparently the schools didn't even have soap for the students recommended hygene and hand washing.

Who really knows obviously isn't saying.

Gatofilo said...

It's obviously more prevalent than most people care to admit.

The World Health Organization said today it will stop tracking individual cases of H1N1 swine flu, the Associated Press reports.

The agency posted the announcement on its website, saying that it would no longer report the number of confirmed cases in all countries but would provide regular updates about newly affected countries in order to track and document the pandemic.

In places where the virus is spreading widely, counting cases and confirming them with tests have become extremely difficult, if not impossible, according to the WHO statement. Counting individual cases is no longer essential for those countries to monitor the risk of infection or to implement responses, the agency said.

marcus said...

i was wrong. apparently, its spread to 12 od the 14 departments, but you still shouldnt worry

Gatofilo said...

The problem is getting infected and coming up with symptoms while your there. Then what...

You can't come back because you can't get on a plane being sick, and so you are now in some deep doodoo.