Swine flu might dampen some New Year’s parties

An outbreak of swine flu has caused seven deaths and may affect negatively New Year’s celebrations and even international tourism.

María Esther Anchía, a physican who is a vice minister of Salud, warned residents about gathering in groups where the virus might be spread.

The television videos are alarming. They show visitors, patients and staff at the Hospital de San Carlos wearing face masks. Five persons have died at that facility and area since the middle of the month. Two person have died of swine flue, AH1N1, in Cartago, and at three three other patients are being checked for the same malady there and in Liberia.

The San Carlos hospital was overwhelmed with patients with respiratory illnesses of the more common varieties.

Health officials said that December is a month with many respiratory diseases, so every person who is ill does not have swine flu. They estimated that the incidences this month are about 25 percent higher than normal.

Some hospitals are reported planning to restrict visits for patients and also may require the wearing of masks as in San Carlos.

So far there does not seem to be any reports of the illness from the 6,000 Cuban migrants who are living in public shelters. They are living in conditions conducive to the spread

Electron microscope photo of the AH1N1virus

Electron microscope photo of the AH1N1virus

of  a viral infection. One Cuban immigrant has come down with malaria, officials  reported.

He is believed to have been infected as he traveled from Ecuador to Costa Rica, perhaps in Colombia.

Among the concerns of health officials are the thousands of Nicaraguans who will be returning to the county after the holidays. They said they think that some will be carrying the swine flu virus.

The flu virus is particularly dangerous for the young, the old and those with chronic diseases, said health officials.

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