Swine flu in Chile: so far, so good

This post has been updated, see also:

May 28, 2009: AH1N1 (Swine Flu) in Chile: Update Part 4
May 22, 2009:  Swine Flu in Chile: Update Part 3
April 29, 2009: Swine Flu Part 2

For a Related Post, see:

May 29, 2009: AH1N1 in Chile, a Scientist’s Perspective

Original Post April 28, 2009: Swine flu in Chile Part 1: so far, so good

This is not the kind of post that would normally appear in Cachando Chile, but with all the furor about Swine Flu (Influenza Porcina in Spanish), this information may be useful.

The good news is that as of this writing, no cases have been confirmed in Chile. Five cases have been discarded and another 8 are being investigated. All people entering the country from Mexico and the US are being screened to prevent a local outbreak.  Like everywhere else in the world, the news is full of reports on the flu (“gripe,” pronounced GREE-pay), but I’ve yet to see any face masks on the street or any signs that daily activity has altered. Life continues as usual here in Santiago.

The US Embassy sent out a Warden Message yesterday, April 27, that included the following information:

The Government of Chile has taken measures in response to the outbreak of swine flu in the United States and Mexico. Officials of the Chilean Health Ministry have begun screening passengers arriving in Chile from the U.S. and Mexico, both by ship and by airplane, for symptoms of flu. Screening includes the use of passive infrared fever scanners.

If necessary, adult travelers arriving in the Metropolitan Region (Santiago) who are suspected of having swine flu will be transferred immediately for evaluation to¨the “Hospital del Tórax,” and minor travelers will be taken to “Hospital Calvo Mackenna,” and all travelers arriving at Regions outside the Metropolitan Region will be transferred to the tertiary care hospitals (base hospitals) in those regions.

More information on the Chilean Government measures is available in Spanish on the Ministry of Health‘s web site.


23 responses to “Swine flu in Chile: so far, so good

  1. Hmm. Interesting PR they put out, but I wonder how much of that actually happens.

  2. Good question, but I’m sure the press will be all over it and of course nobody wants to see it show up here… it would be interesting to find out if anyone has actually been taken to either of these hospitals to be checked out…

  3. Thanks for the info. I just got back from the airport and saw many employees wearing masks. Not a comforting feeling.

  4. I saw a picture of a customs agent at the airport wearing a face mask. A bit unsettling, but think about all the passports and assorted papers that person handles all day!
    I also heard on NPR (National Public Radio: http://www.npr.org) that since this is not an air-borne disease, what the face mask does is (1) protect the wearer from transmitting germs from his or her hands to the mouth, and (2) protecting everyone else from germs that may come from the wearer’s mouth to hands to the next person…
    Next thing you know, they’ll be wearing gloves too!

  5. It depends though what your sources of information are. If they are either MEGA or Chilevisión… mmmhhhh (I was just seeing those channels since TVN was on commercial break, and Canal 13 was still showing their “teleserie”).

    Personally, I think we’ve handled the swine flu-hype really good. I’ll try to ask my aunt who is right now on vacation in the Dominican Republic with her family how other airports have been handling the “pandemia”.

  6. It would be interesting to know how other countries are handling it… I just talked to someone scheduled for a Caribbean cruise on May 1, and the cruise line has canceled the stop in Cancun.
    By the way, they are still not officially calling this a pandemic…

  7. I happened to run into someone who works at Calvo MacKenna last night and she said that they have all been prepared to handle incoming cases of traveling children, but as of yet, no one has come.

  8. I just found the World Health Organization’s Swine flu website with information updated several times a day: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html.
    By the way, Chile is NOT on the list of 7 countries that have confirmed cases of swine flu.

  9. Here is a US perspective- Ordinary flu kills 36,000 people in the US each year so that means already 3,000 people have died from the regular flu since the Swine Flu has been identified. But thank goodness the White House is asking for 1.5B to combat it 🙂

  10. Wow! I didn’t know that, but that IS the CDC figure (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/index.htm). By the way, the CDC (US Center for Disease Control & Prevention) is an excellent source for info on all kinds of illnesses and prevention measures. It even has a Spanish site (http://www.cdc.gov/spanish/)

  11. Pingback: Swine Flu Part 2: Update on Chile « Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture

  12. Pingback: Swine Flu in Chile: Update Part 3 « Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture

  13. Pingback: Swine Flu Part 2: Update on Chile « Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture

  14. What a joke this article is. I flew back into Santiago 2 weeks ago from Miami on LAN. On board I was given a form to fill out asking if I felt sick ect. So I filled it out, when I got to customs they had no clue what to do with the form and no one even asked me for it. When getting my bags screened I asked again. What do I need this form for and who takes it from me and reviews it. Typical Chilean responce, aww just throw it in the waste bin- yeah over there , he says. NICE!! I live in Chile and I live in a very good neighborhood. I have noticed the arrogance around here regarding the swine flu. People think that well my kids are going to school no matter. Chile now has as of May 25th 24 confirmed cases most in the area where I live, Lo Barnechea. I know this because I happen to work for a Government agency (not Chilean) and we get real time info on what is really going on here. Chile is now #1 for swine flu in South America, I just wonder how far this will go. I know this country is NOT ready for this and they are too arrogant here to even think that it is an issue here. I see big problems here in Chile sooner then later.

  15. Sorry need to update to 74 new cases as of today!!

  16. This post was originally written on April 28 as was correct at the time posted. It has since been updated twice and the first lines of the post redirect readers to those updates. The most recent was on May 22, when there were 29 confirmed cases (see: https://cachandochile.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/swine-flu-in-chile-update-part-3/ ).
    Now I see that a 4th update is needed because I just checked the official figures (http://www.redsalud.gov.cl/portal/url/page/minsalcl/g_varios/influenza.html ), and as of 5:30 PM yesterday (May 24) there were 74 cases officially confirmed in Chile!! This is really alarming!
    It also says that 46,569 passengers had been checked at the airport. Why your paperwork was not taken seriously… who knows? Maybe because you passed the thermal scan they weren’t concerned about you…? But it is disconcerting that they didn’t even bother to take the paper!
    Why so many cases in Chile? Maybe we travel more? Maybe Chile is better at DETECTING cases? Hard to say…
    Is Chile really ready for this? Is anyone? Good questions!

  17. Well… an important issue about all of this is related to biology (but, as always, nobody listens to scientists, just to medical doctors…). Anyway, all the evidence suggests that the AH1N1 virus has adapted to its new host. If you analyze carefully, in the countries which new cases, in the most patients, there are no symptoms. In Chile, the vast amount of cases are related to asymptomatic children from schools in the more wealthy part of Santiago. And the cases related to passengers from the airport is small.
    Te question, right now, is to determine how the index case, a small boy, was infected. The family claim that the boy did not leave the country, or either visited or established contact, with somenone who was infected.
    Also, the health public system claims that we are ready to detect quickly new infected. Some hospitals are detecting the virus using immunofluorescence and real time PCR (two highly specific assays).

  18. Hmm… so true, we listen to our physicians, maybe because we hope that THEY are listening to the scientists and translating for us. It’s interesting (and scary) to see where this virus is going. I know that the name was changed from Swine flu to AH1N1 because they discovered that it was not, in fact, the same flu transmitted among pigs, but are you saying that it WAS that virus and has since adapted from that to a human (type A) virus?
    Ah… so many questions!

  19. First off there were NO THERMAL SCANS when I arrived. After living here for over 4 years I can tell you Chileans do not travel more. Less if anything, most people in the population can’t afford to travel. Are there countries that are doing there best at protecting the population? Yes Mexico is doing there best by closing schools shopping ect ect, and they acted with less cases then 74. After contacting other Embassy’s in the Santiago area i found that most are now starting to implement there security measures as of today. I do not see any response on the Chilean government. Schools are running full tilt, businesses no change. One change has been going on. private schools are now choosing to close there doors despite the Chilean health ministers telling them NOT TO DO SO!! ****Quote from the American Times (In Chile, the majority of cases are children from private Santiago schools located in well-off neighborhoods, the health ministry said.

    Twelve schools in Santiago closed down as a precaution, despite pleas by health authorities. Suspending classes “has no justification,” said Chilean Health Minister Alvaro Erazo.) What an IDIOT!!! I guess a few kids have to die first before they take action…

  20. When you came in, were the airport employees wearing face masks? Maybe it was before they caught on to what was going on.
    My comment about Chileans traveling more is with reference to people from other Latin American countries.
    The whole school closing thing has become polemic and there has been much criticism about Mexico shutting down the way it did. That said, I think they did the right thing with the information available at the time.
    The worst part about all of this is just not knowing where it’s going and what the right tactic is without being alarmist. Do you have kids in school? Are you sending them? I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I had kids in a school with a known outbreak.

  21. Pingback: H1N1 in Chile, a Scientist’s Perspective « Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture

  22. п»ї
    Great post, thank you

  23. Hi there…I’m here in Futaleufu where the local news (word of mouth and available hospital beds) say that 25 people are hospitalized with a severe form of flu. Since our main connection with the rest of Chile is Puerto Montt, I’m wondering…..

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