Postcards from Latin America

Our mentor, Dr. Richard Wenzel, is back in Mexico and from there will be heading to Argentina, where an H1N1 outbreak is in full swing and for which a travel alert was just issued. Here is an excerpt from his e-mail yesterday:
Mexico has a new spike of H1N1 cases and the focus is especially high in Chiapas in the south. They have many on respirators with approximately 50 percent mortality - reminiscent of the severe cases in April in Mexico City. Just as in the cases earlier in Mexico City, the Chiapas cases have underlying conditions in only half. Also cases now appearing in Cancun and Merida. Very odd for flu to be here in summer. The big question is how Mexico might distribute the 20 million doses only that they will have by December--to young adults vs high risk young adults vs children who may be efficient transmitters. Even when they target a group, there will be too few doses, and how do you announce the program?
The WHO has quietly announced that it will no longer be tracking H1N1 cases and deaths. The numbers they report have always been grossly inaccurate estimates, given that only a fraction of actual cases are tested. Nations are now asked to report their first few cases only, and to be vigilant for clusters of deaths attributable to H1N1.

I’ve also noticed that, despite all the hullabaloo about the name of this virus when it first swept across the U.S., “swine flu” is now back in vogue. Even the NY Times is back to using “swine flu”.



    NYT today, more on camps - the photo of the campers in masks on the water is quite something!



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