Seriously Bad Stuff In Chiriquí

With the last few weeks there has been some seriously bad stuff going in in Chiriquí Province where I live. There has been an outbreak of AH1N1 virus also known as “Swine Flu.” Influenza A (H1N1) virus is the subtype of influenza A virus that was the most common cause of human influenze   (flu) in 2009, and is associated with the 1918 outbreak known as the Spanish Flu that killed some 50 to 100 million people worldwide over about a year in 1918 and 1919.

So far it’s known that 26 people have confirmed cases of the disease and three people have died of it here in the last couple of weeks. There have even been rumors that the city of David (dah VEED) has considered canceling Carnival celebrations, but in today’s Critica newspaper Yansy Rodríguez, of the Ministerio de Salud denied the rumors.

Back in 2009 when we were having the bid swine flu scare I came down to explore possible places to live here in Panama and people everywhere were wearing gauze masks. Of course that didn’t help them from catching the bug, but it DID prevent them from spreading it to others should they have it and sneeze of cough at least it was trapped between themselves and the mask and not spread to others in the vicinity.

It hasn’t come to that stage of panic yet, but what do you do to protect oneself? You could go to a clinic and get a flu shot. I’m not going to do that. But I do take some precautions. Most of the cases here in Chiriquí come from around Puerto Armuelles and Frontera. To go over to Bugaba to do some shopping you take the bus (35¢) or a cab (50¢) down to El Cruce at the Interamericana and catch a bus there. Bugaba, by the way, is to the west of Boquerón while David is to the east. Among the choices of west-bound buses are those marked for Armuelles and Frontera, the hot beds of flu activity right now. I won’t get on one of those to get to Bugaba or to return to El Cruce.

I have carried a small bottle of anti-bacterial hand cleaner in my back pack for a couple of years. I use it before taking a shopping cart at Romero supermarket. You never know whose used it before you. I use it again when I’m leaving the store. On the buses I try not to touch anything if I can help it, and after putting the stuff I’ve bought in the refrigerator or on the shelves I wash my hands. Now, that may sound like I’m a bit paranoid or becoming a bit Howard Hughes obsessive. I don’t think I am but these are just a few precautions a person can easily practice to cut down the chances of infection.


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5 responses to “Seriously Bad Stuff In Chiriquí

  1. Just out of curiosity, why are you declining the flu shot? I can think of several reasons, but I’ve always thought of it as one of the best preventatives there is, even though they occasionally miss, as they did last year, and don’t formulate it for the strain that shows up.

    I’ve never had good experiences with flu shots. Generally have adverse reactions to them…including flu symptoms.

    One of unexpected side benefits of the work I do is being outside, and being alone. No crowded offices, public transportation, and so on. If I stay away from malls and movie theaters, which I do anyway, I’m pretty much good to go. I do keep a little pack of Chlorox wipes in my purse for grocery carts and such.

    I have minimal close contact with people, too, except having to ride the buses or in grocery stores, and like I said, I avoid getting on buses that generally come from the infected areas.

  2. Wasn’t the first death one of the Cuban Refugees who are stuck at the border?

    I believe so.

  3. Good Advice – Thanks

  4. Very sensible precautions, IMO. As a nurse who was required to get a flu shot every year, I’m really happy not to be poked with needles any more (and happy not to be exposed to every nasty bug in town!) But, hand washing is always good and those hand sanitizers work very well.

    One of the biggest sources of contamination comes from money. Coins in particular. That’s why I wash my hands after using the stuff and try to make sure I keep my hands away from my mouth and nose until my hands are clean. Admittedly I’m more cautious right now because of the severity of what’s going on here.

    • There’s nothing funny about the situation, but I did have to smile, as your comment reminded me of the old expression about “filthy lucre.” Seems that can be taken literally as well as figuratively.