2009 flu pandemic in Costa Rica

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Costa Rica
  Confirmed cases followed by death
  Confirmed cases
  Unconfirmed or suspected cases

In March and April 2009, an outbreak of a new strain of flu (also known as influenza), popularly known as swine flu was discovered to have infected several people in Mexico and the states of California and Texas in the United States. On April 28 Costa Rica became the first Central American country to report the outbreak of the virus, with a confirmed infection.[1] As of November 4 the Costa Rican Ministry of Health had 1,596 confirmed cases, 1,275 pending cases, 8,000 already discarded, and 38 deaths.[2]

On July 31 local authorities announced that the country was selected among the sample countries that will be part of the test of the vaccine developed by Swiss pharmaceutical Novartis. The local sample will include 784 Costa Ricans ages 3 to 64. Besides Costa Rica, this vaccine prototype will be tested also in Mexico and the United States.[3]

On August 11 was confirmed that Costa Rica's President, Óscar Arias Sánchez, was infected with the A(H1N1) virus, becoming the first head of state sick with the A(H1N1) virus[4][5] President Arias returned to his normal activities after one week of isolation at his home.[6]

Initial outbreak[edit]

The first confirmed case of influenza A (H1N1) in Costa Rica was announced on April 28, and was that of a young woman hospitalized in San Jose.[1] On April 28, Minister of Health of Costa Rica, Maria Luisa Avila confirmed the second case, a 29-year old man hospitalized at the Hospital San Vicente de Paul in Heredia.[7] A National Health Emergency was announced.

The Ministry of Health reported the existence of two new probable cases of swine flu in the country on the morning of May 2.[8] These were a 53-year old man who had not traveled to Mexico, in a hospital in San Jose, and a 24-year old woman who is recovering at home. These new patients brought the total number of Costa Ricans affected by the virus to four. Three are listed as probable cases, while one was duly confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States. Four more cases were confirmed on May 4 by the Costa Rican "Centro Nacional de Referencia en Virología." All of these patients have recently traveled to Mexico.[9] Since April 29 the Ministry of Health recommended to avoid travel to Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. as the number of confirmed cases by local authorities reached eight.[9]

On May 12 the Minister of Health announced that an alert was received from U.S. authorities informing that three members from a Boston chorus, Canta Mundi, that traveled to several tourism places in Costa Rica during April, showed symptoms of AH1N1 flu after returning to the U.S.[10] On May 13 Costa Rican health authorities announced four new probable cases, three of which had contact with the Boston chorus, and a follow-up is being done with those who had contact with the chorus.[11] A couple of English language newspapers questioned whether the chorus members had infected locals, or rather the Boston youngsters picked up the disease in Costa Rica, as the chorus flew directly from the United States to Costa Rica.[12][13]

Beginning May 20 probable cases are now confirmed locally by the aboratorio de Virología del Instituto Costarricense de Investigación y Enseñanza en Nutrición y Salud (Inciensa), which now is in capacity to confirm the presence of the A (H1N1) virus in 24 hours. Previously, all samples had to be sent to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation.[14] Among the 26 confirmed cases until May 21, six patients had contact with the Boston chorus and the Ministry of Health reported that all patients have a stable condition.[14]

July and August contagion surge[edit]

As a result of a wave of new cases that occurred by early July, the Ministry of Health announced a new strategy to deal with this peak that resulted in increased deaths. Beginning July 11, 2009, testing for the virus will be conducted only on patients with risk factors and critical cases, including those with fever above 39 °C and patients with respiratory difficulties, as the main objective now is to reduce mortality rather than avoid contagion.[15] This policy means that statistics regarding the number of cases will no longer reflect the total number of actual cases. Also, mid-year school vacations were extended one week in order to curb contagion.[8]

On July 21 the Ministry of Health, in agreement with the Catholic Church, and in order to prevent a massive contagion, prohibited the traditional pilgrimage to the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles (Our Lady of the Angels Basilica), patroness of catholic Costa Ricans. This pilgrimage takes places every year on August 1 since 227 years ago, and this is the first time ever that is suspended.[16] Health authorities estimate the risk of contagion in 20,000 people, as around two million pilgrims would have participated in this traditional religious event.[16]

On July 31 local authorities announced that the country was selected among the sample countries that will be part of the test of the vaccine developed by Swiss pharmaceutical Novartis. The local sample will include 784 Costa Ricans ages 3 to 64. Besides Costa Rica, this vaccine prototype will be tested also in Mexico and the United States.[3]

As of November 4 the Costa Rican Ministry of Health had 1,596 confirmed cases, 1,275 pending cases, 8,000 already discarded, and 38 deaths, with an infection rate of 35,32 per 100,000 people.[2]

Deaths[edit]

First deaths[edit]

The Ministry of Health received confirmation on May 8 from the Centers for Disease Control of seven cases of infection with influenza A/H1N1 virus. Health Minister Maria Luisa Avila announced that these were three men, aged 24, 30 and 53, two women, aged 20 and 25, two girls, aged 4 and 11, and a boy aged 3. "They are people who were in Mexico or had contact with travelers to that country", said the Ministry. The 53-year old man became the first fatality in Costa Rica, confirmed on May 9 by the Minister of Health.[17][18]

Out of the seven remaining cases confirmed by the US Center for Disease Control, three were children infected by the patient who died, and their condition never was critical.[19] Costa Rica became the fourth country in the world, after Mexico, the United States and Canada to confirm fatalities related to the influenza virus A (H1N1).[18]

The deceased man was suffering other chronic diseases. The Minister of Health informed he had diabetes and also was suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She also informed the man was infected inside Costa Rica because he had not traveled to Mexico, and that a total 51 persons were identified who had contact with the sick man, but only three turned out positive.[20]

The second fatality was a 35-year old woman, and she died on June 23, less than 24 hours after arriving to the emergency room at a local hospital. The woman was suffering of hypertension and morbid obesity.[21] A third patient died on June 29, a 55-year old man who presented chronic obstructive pulmonary disease due to smoking.[22] A 45-year old woman was the fourth fatality. She died on July 4.[23]

The fifth death occurred on July 11. The patient was a 25-year old woman pregnant with twins. Both five-month-old fetuses died hours before their mother did.[24] The sixth fatality occurred on July 13, a 45-year old man. This was the first patient to died who was not suffering none of the risk factors previously identified in other deceased patients.[25] The seventh confirmed fatality was a 24-year old man, who smoke and suffered obesity.[26]

Current situation[edit]

As of October 15 health authorities had confirmed 38 fatalities, of which the last one took place on late September, and also the death of a Costa Rican woman in Nicaragua was also confirmed.[2] The mortality rate is 0.85 deaths by 100,000 people, and the fatality rate is 2.48%.[2] From all deceased patients, 47.3% occurred among San José residents, and only the Guanacaste Province has not had any deaths related to the virus. The age of the deceased varies between 20 to 79 year-old, with an average age of 41 years.[2]

total deaths by province and sex
(April 23 to September 7, 2009)
Provincia Total Femenino Masculino
San José
18
7
11
Heredia
5
3
2
Alajuela
6
0
6
Limón
4
3
1
Puntarenas
3
1
2
Cartago
2
2
0
Total
38
16
22
Source: Dirección Vigilancia de la Salud.[2]

Until early September, the most frequent risk factors presented by the deceased patients are obesity (36.4%), diabetes (18.2%), asthma (18.2%), pregnancy (9.1%) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (6.1%).[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Confirmada primera tica con fiebre porcina" (in Spanish). La Nación. Archived from the original on 1 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Ministerio de Salud de Costa Rica (2009-11-04). "Comunicado Oficial: Situación de la Influenza Pandémica en Costa Rica al 4 de noviembre de 2009 - Boletín N. 60" (PDF) (in Spanish). Archived (PDF) from the original on 19 December 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-15. 
  3. ^ a b "Ensayo de vacuna contra virus AH1N1 incluirá a Costa Rica" (in Spanish). La Nación. 2009-07-31. Archived from the original on 2009-09-09. Retrieved 2009-08-01. 
  4. ^ "Presidente Arias contagiado con gripe AH1N1" (in Spanish). La Nación. 2009-08-11. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  5. ^ "Costa Rican president sick with swine flu". CNN. 2009-08-11. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  6. ^ "Presidente retoma hoy actividades públicas" (in Spanish). La Nación. 2009-08-18. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  7. ^ "Confirmado segundo tico con fiebre porcina" (in Spanish). La Nación. 2009-04-28. Archived from the original on 1 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  8. ^ a b "Salud reporta dos nuevos casos de gripe porcina en el país" (in Spanish). La Nación. 2009-04-30. Archived from the original on 5 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  9. ^ a b "Sube a ocho cifra de ticos infectados con gripe pandémica" (in Spanish). La Nación. 2009-05-04. Archived from the original on 8 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  10. ^ "Coro de Boston viajó por todo el país con la gripe AH1N1" (in Spanish). La Nación. 2009-05-12. Archived from the original on 15 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  11. ^ "Salud reporta cuatro nuevos casos probables de gripe" (in Spanish). La Nación. 2009-05-13. Archived from the original on 16 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  12. ^ "Boston chorus getting blame for spreading swine flu". A.M. Costa Rica. 2009-05-13. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  13. ^ "UPDATE: Costa Rica blames singers for swine flu spread". Wicked Local Lexington. 2009-05-13. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  14. ^ a b "Aumenta a 20 número de nacionales con gripe AH1N1" (in Spanish). La Nación. 2009-05-20. Archived from the original on 23 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  15. ^ "Directrices para la pandemia de influenza AH1N1: Actualización al 13 de julio de 2009" (PDF) (in Spanish). Ministerio de Salud de Costa Rica. 2009-07-13. Retrieved 2009-07-13. [dead link] As a result of new health policies, statistics regarding the number of cases will no longer reflect the total number of actual cases as the Ministry of Health decided to concentrate testing only on patients with risk factors and critical cases, beginning July 11, 2009.
  16. ^ a b "Cancelación de romería rompe tradición de 227 años" (in Spanish). La Nación. 2009-07-21. Retrieved 2009-07-22. 
  17. ^ "Muere primer tico contagiado de gripe AH1N1" (in Spanish). La Nación. 2009-05-09. Archived from the original on 13 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-09. 
  18. ^ a b "Costa Rica Sees 1st Swine Flu Death". ABC News. 2009-05-09. Retrieved 2009-05-09. [dead link]
  19. ^ "Tres niños con gripe AH1N1 fueron contagiados por tico que falleció esta madrugada" (in Spanish). La Nación. 2009-05-09. Archived from the original on 13 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-09. 
  20. ^ "Tico fallecido por gripe AH1N1 empeoró por enfermedades crónicas" (in Spanish). La Nación. 2009-05-09. Archived from the original on 13 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-11. 
  21. ^ "Muere segundo costarricense contagiado con gripe AH1N1" (in Spanish). La Nación (Costa Rica). 2009-06-30. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  22. ^ "Muere fumador contagiado con la gripe AH1N1" (in Spanish). La Nación. 2009-07-05. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  23. ^ "Gripe AH1N1 cobra cuarta vida en Costa Rica" (in Spanish). La Nación. 2009-07-07. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  24. ^ "Muere embarazada de gemelos tras infectarse de gripe AH1N1" (in Spanish). La Nación. 2009-07-12. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  25. ^ "País confirma sexto muerto por gripe AH1N1" (in Spanish). La Nación. 2009-07-13. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  26. ^ "Paciente obeso y fumador fallece por gripe AH1N1" (in Spanish). La Nación. 2009-07-15. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  27. ^ Ministerio de Salud de Costa Rica (2009-09-08). "Comunicado Oficial: Situación de la Influenza Pandémica en Costa Rica al 8 de setiembre de 2009 - Boletín N. 56" (PDF) (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2009-09-16. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 

External links[edit]