Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Saturday, May 9, 2009

No Cases of Swine Flu in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico

Thus far Puerto Peñasco has registered no cases of Influenza A (H1N1), more commonly known as swine flu, according to Eliel Lopez Urias, Director of Epidemiology at the local health center. Lopez Urias asserts that there is no reason for Penasco to be in a state of panic.

The health center has been monitoring the situation consistently, with the purpose of detecting influenza in either pigs or humans. They have increased the number of daily consultations with patients, with special attention paid to increased reports of respiratory infections.

Lopez Urías indicated that though there has been an increase of almost 40% in reported cases of respiratory infections in the last week, this in no way means there is influenza in Puerto Penasco. He says it is important to get the word out so that the population, as well as tourists, do not fall prey to false information and rumors. He also noted the medical personnel of the community has redoubled its efforts and work to address those respiratory infections.

Lopez Urias ascribes the increase in those cases to the influence of the mass media in spreading the description of symptoms. He believes that due to that knowledge people are going to the doctors when the first symptoms appear, thinking it might be the flu, but so far there have been no cases of the flu detected or confirmed.

The health center is emphasizing the importance of personal hygiene by puertopeñasquenses, since the greatest risk of contracting or of transmitting the disease is in the lack of hand washing. Our hands, says Lopez Urias, are in constant contact with articles such as plates, work tools, home utensils, banister rails in public transport, and others places, where the virus might lurk and be picked up when the hands come in contact with mucous or saliva. The disease would then travel, unnoticed, and it is possible to be developed in the immediate or short term.

Hand washing and disinfectant use are important for prevention, in the same way as covering the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing. So wash your hands often, cover your mouth when you cough, and take general precautions.

According to Wikipedia, The 2009 outbreak of influenza A (H1N1) virus is an epidemic of a new strain of influenza virus identified in April 2009, and is commonly referred to as "swine flu." The source of the outbreak in humans is still unknown but cases were first discovered in the U.S. and officials soon suspected a link between this and an earlier outbreak of late-season flu cases in Mexico. Within days, hundreds more suspected cases, many resulting in death, were discovered in Mexico, with more cases found in the U.S. and several other countries. Soon after, the U.N.'s World Health Organization (WHO), along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), became concerned that it could become a worldwide flu pandemic, and WHO then raised its pandemic alert level to "Phase 5" out of 6 maximum, as a "signal that a pandemic is imminent".

Although virologists have noted that the outbreak is so far relatively mild and less fatal than previous pandemics, other health officials, including CDC Director Richard Besser, worry about what might happen later in the year, saying that "we are not seeing any sign of this petering out. We are still on the upswing of the epidemic curve. The number of cases is expected to rise as the new flu spreads across the country."

The new strain is an apparent reassortment of four strains of influenza A virus subtype H1N1. Analysis by the CDC identified the four component strains as one endemic in humans, one endemic in birds, and two endemic in pigs (swine). However, other scientists have stated that analysis of the 2009 swine flu (A/H1N1) viral genome suggests that all RNA segments are of swine origin, and "this preliminary analysis suggests at least two swine ancestors to the current H1N1, one of them related to the triple reassortant viruses isolated in North America in 1998." One swine influenza strain was widespread in the United States, the other in Eurasia. In a step towards understanding the outbreak, and developing a vaccine, Canadian scientists have completed the full genetic sequencing of H1N1 swine flu virus. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_swine_flu_outbreak