The H1N1 strand of influenza, also known as the “swine flu” has grabbed the attention of the media throughout the world in the last few weeks. As of June 2, the World Health Organization (WHO) had confirmed 17,410 cases throughout the world and 115 fatalities due to the epidemic. Not yet a phase 6 pandemic, but almost according to the WHO, the epidemic has been most widespread on the North American continent, but also has been a prominent cause for concern throughout Latin America, Europe, and Asia.
In El Salvador, as of May 31, the Sistema Nacional de Salud had confirmed 30 cases of H1N1, 12 probable cases, and 11 suspected cases, while 180 people were still being monitored. These numbers make El Salvador the twelfth highest in numbers of confirmed cases among 62 countries that have confirmed cases. Airports and border areas in El Salvador continue to be monitored with vigilance.
The WHO has said that while anyone is susceptible to the pandemic, those who have chronic health problems and/or nutritional deficiencies are most susceptible and may experience the most severe symptoms. Symptoms are typical of other strands of influenza such as body aches, headache, chills, cough, fever, fatigue, and sore throat.
At this time, the WHO is not recommending the restriction of travel, but airports throughout the world are taking extreme measures to identify infected persons coming into their countries. Preventative measures include increased hygienic practices such as frequent hand washing and refraining from sharing food or personal objects. While the traditional flu vaccine is not effective against the H1N1 strand, scientists and doctors are already working on creating a vaccine, but this process may take up to six months.