Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Status of the A-H1N1 Virus in Puerto Penasco



I've recently received several emails from people concerned about the status of the swine flu virus in Puerto Penasco. It's a reasonable concern that I think needs to be addressed, so here is what has been reported in various Mexican news outlets.

First up is the information you want the most: As of October 10, 2009, there were 1,091 confirmed cases of influenza A-H1N1 throughout the state of Sonora, with more than 937 possible flue samples being examined by the State Laboratory. According to State health experts, approximately 40% of samples sent to the laboratory actually turn out to be A-H1N1.

Hermosillo continues to lead the municipalities most affected with 525 cases, followed by Cajeme with 264, Puerto Peñasco with 151 and Navojoa 50. There were 7 confirmed H1N1-related deaths state-wide. No confirmed cases of the flu have been reported to be foreign tourists or permanent foreign residents.

For comparison purposes, as of October 3, 2009 the state of Arizona had 2,263 laboratory-confirmed cases of H1N1, with 30 deaths associated with the virus. Maricopa County (population 3.9 million), where Phoenix is located, had 1,448 confirmed cases as of October 3. (See the Arizona Department of Health Services' Weekly Flu Report for more information.)

The state of Sonora, Mexico has in the vicinity of 2.5 million inhabitants. The population of Hermosillo is about 642,000 for the city, about 731,000 in the municipality; the population of Puerto Penasco is approximately 45,000.

According to the Sonora Health Secretary, the outbreak is currently under control, and the state remains at yellow alert since the outbreak has not exceeded the capacity of the hospitals, medical personnel, or the laboratory itself.

The flu issue is being taken very seriously throughout Mexico, and Rocky Point is no exception. Most recently, it was announced that the Navy is setting up a military checkpoint at Kilometer 68 on the road between Sonoyta and Puerto Penasco, a "health" checkpoint for the purpose of preventing the spread of A-H1N1 that might be brought into the country by tourists or by residents of Sonoyta. Depending on the flow of traffic from the north, the checkpoint will be installed either permanently or partially. What will actually occur at such a checkpoint has not been made clear.

An important step that has been taken to halt the spread of the virus is the widespread dissemination of information to the populace on how to prevent and recognize the disease. Important among those efforts is the coordination between the Association of Parents of Families (Aepaf) and the Ministry of Health, Education and Culture, carried out at six regional meetings with the school boards. The focus is on the prevention of influenza H1N1, with experts presenting the information to the Health and Education staff of the boards.

In turn, members of the boards inform other parents, creating a chain of prevention methods such as good hygiene in the homes to protect the health of children. Initially, regional meetings are being held in Hermosillo, Nogales, Cajeme Navojoa Sahuaripa and Puerto Penasco.

As is the case throughout the world, emphasis on prevention measures being disseminated include frequent handwashing with soap and water; covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throwing the tissue in the trash; staying home from work or school if sick; good hygiene at home; and going to the doctor to detect symptoms of the disease.

In closing, the statistics indicate that you will be as safe in Puerto Penasco as you will be anywhere else. Taking the same precautions when traveling as you do at home should be more than adequate to protect you. And get your vaccination!

You will find face masks in widespread use at restaurants in Rocky Point, and a lot of handwashing going on. Come on down, October is a wonderful month to be in Rocky Point!

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