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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkHealth & Beauty | May 2009 

Puerto Vallarta/Jalisco/Nayarit Swine Flu Updates
email this pageprint this pageemail usPamela Thompson - PVNN

With all the outbreak of swine flu in Mexico, should you be afraid to travel to Puerto Vallarta? Join Health Care Resources Puerto Vallarta's Pamela Thompson here for the latest news and health reports from around Banderas Bay.
Saturday, May 23, 2009 4 pm

Puerto Vallarta & Banderas Bay Area Food Drive: Over the past month, thousands of people in the Banderas Bay area have been impacted by the lack of tourists, resulting in a loss of jobs and income and leaving hard-working locals struggling to meet the basic needs of their families. It is now time for us all to step up to the plate and help out. Click HERE to find out how you can help.
Friday, May 22, 2009 4 pm

Though Vallarta remains "Flu Free," Mexico’s government and tourism authorities continue to keep us informed about what is happening in Mexico, what the Mexican government is doing, and what the world is saying about Mexico and the H1N1 virus. Click HERE for full story.

In our continuing video series, Dr. Alejandro Rios, a local Internal Medicine Doctor and member of the Puerto Vallarta Epidemiology Committee, offers common-sense medical advice about the Swine Flu in Mexico. (Video Diva Productions)

• Part 1: Swine Flu Overview
• Part 2: How it is Transmitted
• Part 3: Tamiflu and Relenza
• Part 4: Do I Need a Face Mask?
• Part 5: Should I See a Doctor?
• Part 6: Influenza Vaccinations
Friday, May 15, 2009 7 pm

I think the time has come where daily updates are no longer needed. Unless there is some huge, major change, I believe everyone has a pretty clear picture of where things stand right now. We are healthy.

The next giant step is to work on ways to recover. No matter what, there is always hope. As I walked down Olas Altas Street, there are more people out and about. There seems to be a new type of buzz in the air, a shift in the energy. One last day at the beach for the children who have been out of school for such a long time (and what a relief for their parents when this coming Monday they return to classes!)

But this is far, far from over. The deep, cut-to-the-core economic wound is not going to heal overnight. We have many months of struggle ahead. Laid-off employees have many months to get through. How to pay the rent? How to buy food for their kids?

Today I ran into an old friend on the street. This nice man has worked at the International Airport for many years as a taxi driver. He was as handsome as ever. He told me that he had been laid-off indefinitely and just did not know what he was going to do.

His children return to school next Monday and they needed supplies, food and all of the things kids need. But, he had no money to buy them anything. He then sheepishly pulled out a new, beautifully boxed set of Carolina Herrera 212 perfume and asked me if I was interested in buying it.

Where it came from I don't have any idea. I don't want to know. I do know that I have known him for enough years to understand that he must be mortified with humiliation to have to ask me to purchase it. So I did at a ridiculously low price (but more than he had originally asked.)

He hugged me and profusely thanked me. Being the skeptic that I am, in the back of my mind I was thinking "Gee, I hope he doesn't go and buy a bottle of tequila to drown his sorrows." A short time later, I saw him in a local papeleria (stationary supply store) with two small children, purchasing school supplies! I could have cried.

Because they will never do it themselves, I would like to give a huge thank you and pat-on-the-back to the BanderasNews editors. They always work tirelessly to post the most current information available and to keep BanderasNews.com the fabulous site that it is. Muchas Gracias!

And to the many, many people who have written to us, gracias to you too! Your personal emails are touching and heartwarming. We look forward to seeing you here soon! Hasta Luego!
Friday, May 15, 2009 4:45 pm

CDC’s Travel Health Warning recommending against non-essential travel to Mexico, in effect since April 27, 2009, has now been downgraded to a Travel Health Precaution for Mexico. You can access the notice from the CDC Travelers' Health travel notices page.
Thursday, May 14, 2009 7 pm

I have been asked for an update and I am not really too sure what there is to update today! Since I cannot seem to find any 100% confirmed numbers, let's stick with the "Puerto Vallarta has 0 confirmed cases of influenza." And, if there are 2 or 3 more, then that surely is not an epidemic number.

It is very quiet here as we keep our fingers crossed that tourists will begin to trickle back in! I know there are some out there as I pass them on the street and I want to run up to them, hug them and say "THANK YOU FOR COMING!" But, that would probably scare them away thinking that some deranged, over-emailed woman is after them.

Seriously though, the fall-out economically is devastating. I have had 3 people in the span of 4 hours knock on my door, asking if I have any work, offering to sweep, pull weeds, clean, etc. Watch for an upcoming announcement of a program we are developing with DIF (Social Services) to collect food for those in need. This will provide an opportunity for everyone to help out at a very minimal cost. Details in the next couple of days.

In the meantime, come on down and see us in Puerto Vallarta, where the prices are fabulous, the weather is good, the sunsets are gorgeous and the people are healthy (and very friendly!)
Wednesday, May 13, 2009 2 pm

This update might shoot the hell out of my credibility but that's ok. I have heard today that my reporting that there were 3 confirmed cases of the H1N1 influenza here in Puerto Vallarta is incorrect. I understand from several sources (which I will write about later) that there are 0 cases confirmed in Puerto Vallarta!

So, if that is the case, I AM GLAD I WAS WRONG! I sincerely believe that the Secretary of Health, Sr. Cordoba, knows what he is talking about. (I have even written a letter to him commending him on the quick action Mexico has taken in all of this and my apologies for wrong information, if in fact it turns out to be. I hope he reads English.)

So, let me do some digging and researching further into this and I will post a report with what I can find out. Either way - 0 or 3 - I think that this is proof enough that things are good here!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009 4 pm

The good news is that the patients who were our only confirmed cases here in Puerto Vallarta have been discharged home, in good form. Hurray! The bad news is that our streets are basically empty. Days pass and some shops have not had one single sale. They stay open in the hope that someone will come in and check out their items and purchase something... anything!

I just walked home via the beach and the beach vendors are gathered in small groups playing lively games of cards, their bright and shiny wares, large and small, spilling out of their backpacks set on cement planters.

In many restaurants you can see the waiters sitting at the tables, tired of standing around doing not a whole lot of anything. And I would venture to say, worried sick about how they will buy food for their families with no tips coming in.

Taxi drivers sit on the curbs waiting for customers, smiling and asking "Lady! Do you need a ride somewhere?" A few people gather at the local coffee hang-outs and the talk is basically about the economy, which is getting about as boring as talking about the flu.

But everyone still has hope. Hope that the tourists, our livelihood, will return - and soon.

Restaurant Week, which is extremely popular, (click HERE for info) provides a glimmer of anticipation. Menus are planned, reservations are being made, mouths are watering.

Don't get me wrong. Day to day businesses such as banking, government and all of those types of things are moving along as normal. But I sincerely doubt that every single person - from the Coca-Cola delivery man to the principal of an elementary school, from the garbage collector to a hospital administrator - is not thinking about all of this and wondering what the next few months will bring us.

I made a fabulous purchase on the way home. A toothless, apron-wearing, grizzled, but elegant, old woman looked up at me and said "Lady. Purse?" I need another purse like I need a hole in the head. But here they sit on my desk - all three of them.

And that is my update for today!
Monday, May 11, 2009 1 pm

Three confirmed cases in Puerto Vallarta, all treated and doing well. Two discharged and the other being discharged today.
May 9, 2009 7:30 am

It was bound to happen. The odds were stacked against us. I am a statistic-idiot. But even I could see how quickly the H1N1 influenza was crossing borders world-wide on an hourly basis, that it would cross the border into the state of Jalisco (the state that Puerto Vallarta is in) and somehow work its way into Puerto Vallarta. And, that it has.

We now have officially, two confirmed cases of influenza in Puerto Vallarta. Once again, government officials have shut down many areas of the city including bars, discos, schools, movie theaters and large gatherings until May 18, 2009. We are urged and reminded, as in the beginning, to wash hands, disinfect, and use all of the proper precautions. We are doing this, and doing it diligently.

The weather is warming up, which is a good anti-flu ( of any type!) deterrent and "flu-killer". Probably one of the most important messages that I can give to you is that we do have the anti-viral and treatments available here with a professional, top-notch medical community! And not just for this flu - for everything, from broken bones to heart attacks.

Remember that hundreds and hundreds of people travel to Puerto Vallarta each year just for medical treatment. That has to say something about medical care and treatment here.

I will update as I receive official information.
Friday, May 8, 2009 9 pm

Though there are still no confirmed cases of 'Swine Flu' here in Vallarta, after receiving reports of three possible H1N1 influenza virus-related deaths in the state of Jalisco today, Governor Emilio Gonzαlez Mαrquez announced that all schools, movie theaters and night clubs in the state of Jalisco will once again be closed until May 18, 2009.
Friday, May 8, 2009 3 pm

As per Dr. Luis Suarez, there are 26 confirmed cases of the H1N1 influenza in the state of Jalisco. In Puerto Vallarta, 0 cases. One patient at one of the government hospitals was suspected of having it, but tests confirmed it to be Influenza B (the "regular" flu) and NOT H1N1.
Friday, May 8, 2009 8 AM

As you can see via all press, the CDC and WHO (World Health Organization) the H1N1 influenza is widespread throughout many areas in the United States. It seems to be spreading much faster in the United States than here in Mexico!

We now have 15 confirmed cases in the state of Jalisco (all in or near the Guadalajara area). It is important to note that all of these cases have been treated. There are 2 confirmed cases in the state of Nayarit, treated as well.

Yesterday morning, as per Dr. Luis Suarez, there were 5 suspicious cases in Puerto Vallarta but late yesterday he informed me that they turned out to be not the H1N1 flu.

We are attempting to return to normal day-to-day routines here in the Banderas Bay area but continuing with the proper precautions. The economic fall-out from all of this is far worse than the flu itself. The job of every single person in our area now is to let the world know that Puerto Vallarta remains one of the true paradise spots on the planet.
May 7, 2009 7 PM

Emilio Gonzalez, the governor of the Mexican state of Jalisco, announced on May 6 that there have now been 15 confirmed cases of the H1N1 (swine flu) in Guadalajara. There are still NO cases in Puerto Vallarta, which is about a four hour drive from Guadalajara. (see Ed Walsh's report here)
May 4, 2009 6 PM

Not much new to report today. One thing that I do think is important is that, as per Dr. Luis Suarez here in Puerto Vallarta (infectious disease specialist) the incubation period for this new influenza is 2-3 days.

Private hospitals in the area are fairly slow, with patients being admitted for the general "other" type of things, as is the norm. As of noon today, no confirmed cases, as before in the states of Jalisco, Nayarit or Colima.

Precautions are still in place but many less masks seen on people out in the streets today. No official word yet as to when businesses and schools will re-open. As it stands now, the date is to be Wednesday, May 6, 2009.

The weather is beginning to warm up a bit, which tends to change the course in many infections "in the air" (diminishing them.)

Sunday morning, May 3, 2009

Today's update is a bit different - from a bit more personal and less medical terminology point of view. (click HERE to view)
May 1, 2009 - 10am

Everything remains the same with NO CASES confirmed in the states of Jalisco, Nayarit or Colima. Today is a legal holiday. Many places remain closed until next week (date of re-opening pending).
April 30, 2009 5:30 PM

Everything pretty much remains the same in the Banderas Bay area. As before, no reported cases in Jalisco, Nayarit or Colima of the Swine Flu.

One of the most common questions I have been receiving is: "If I go to Puerto Vallarta, are there good health care facilities in case I get sick?" (Wouldn't that be something you would want to consider regardless?) The answer is YES! This is always the case!

People must realize that whenever it is that they come to our area, we have fabulous, bi-lingual, professional physicians along with state-of-the-art facilities. Why do you think so many people travel here each year for various medical treatments (yes - on purpose!) - from bariatric surgery to orthopedic surgery?

People become ill on vacations all-year-round (regardless of where they travel to and from!), from "regular" flu to stomach flu to heart attacks to clots in their legs! We humans can get sick at any time, anywhere. Rest assured, regardless of when your vacation or trip is, that here in Puerto Vallarta, you will have the very best in care.

Any time one travels on vacation, no matter their destination, they need to take responsibility for their health care. Not just when there is a "crisis" such as the Swine Flu. Be prepared! Have proper insurance, bring enough of the medications that you take at home with you, have your emergency contacts with you. If you are under a physician's care at home, bring a little patient history/blurb about your treatment. Doing just a bit of homework prior to your trip can help you relax and really enjoy your vacation.

I would like to repeat that no, there is no Tamiflu available in our area. There is Relenza, but only given in a hospital setting to a patient that has a confirmed diagnosis of Swine Flu. (So far, it has not been done here.)

Best websites to follow: cdc.gov and who.int/en/
April 30, 2009 8:18 AM

As of this morning, there are still NO REPORTS of swine flu in the states of Jalisco, Nayarit or Colima. (Now, get up and go wash your hands...)
April 28, 2009 7 PM

"Should I cancel my trip to Puerto Vallarta?" That is the #1 question being sent to many of us here in the Banderas Bay area, from family, friends & tourists.

How do we answer that?

First, make an informed decision.

In my opinion, the best sources for up-to-date information are the following websites:

cdc.gov
who.int/en/
usembassy-mexico.gov
voyage.gc.ca

Then consider the following factors:

• What area are you travelling from? Are there confirmed cases of swine flu in that area?

• What area are you travelling to? Are there confirmed cases of swine flu in that area?

Once that has been determined, then make your choice. Should you be travelling to an area with a substantial incidence of confirmed cases, then of course, you are going to be highly scrutinized upon your return to your home country, most likely more so than if you are travelling to an area with no confirmed cases.

Note that neither the US or Canadian government are refusing to allow people to fly here. They are, however, advising not to fly here unless it is essential. Only you can decide if your vacation is essential or not!

Should you choose to come here on vacation, for precautionary measures, do wear a mask on the plane trip. And if you do come, bring masks with you because (as in the US and Canada) mask supplies are very, very limited here at this time.

Please keep in mind that I am not a physician! I can only pass information that is received from professional, trustworthy and reliable physicians here in Puerto Vallarta.

Should you decide to "come on down" for your vacation, then you will see that precautions are being taken. The movie theaters are closed, the nightclubs and discos are closed. School is not in session.

However, most restaurants are open & the beaches are in full swing. Our lives are going on pretty much as they normally do. The weather is fabulous. You will see people wearing face masks, which can be a bit scary, but is only a precaution.

I went to the grocery store this morning, and the boys that bag groceries were wiping down and disinfecting the cart handles after people used them. Great! That should be done all the time, regardless of the country!

So, think through your decision, read the reliable sources... and take precautions no matter where you are!
April 28, 2009 2 PM

• Things remain basically the same in the area. As per infectious disease physician, no confirmed cases in Jalisco, Nayarit or Colima (neighboring states.)

• Many more people are seen wearing face masks, mostly food handlers, delivery people, hospital workers, some children.

• Movie theaters, nightclubs and schools remain closed until early next week.

• Nearly all restaurants are open.

• Same precautions as before are recommended.
Monday, April 27, 2009 7:30 PM

Precautionary Measures being taken in Vallarta:
• Nightclubs/Discos are closed until next week.
• Schools are closed until next week.
• Movie theaters and casinos are closed until next week.

Here are the latest updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Situation in the United States

As of 1:00 pm ET on April 27, 2009, CDC has confirmed 40 human cases of swine flu in the United States:

California: 7 cases
Kansas: 2 cases
New York City: 28 cases
Ohio: 1 case
Texas: 2 cases

Of these 40 cases, there have been zero deaths. Only one has been hospitalized. All 40 have fully recovered.

For more information, please see the CDC Swine Flu website.

Situation in Mexico

At this time, CDC recommends that U.S. travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico.

As of April 27, 2009, the Government of Mexico has reported 18 laboratory confirmed human cases of swine influenza A/H1N1 infection. Investigation is continuing to clarify the spread and severity of the disease in Mexico. Suspect clinical cases have been reported in 19 of the country's 32 states.

The World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Alert and Response Network (GOARN), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have sent experts to Mexico to work with health authorities. CDC has confirmed that seven of 14 respiratory specimens sent to CDC by the Mexican National Influenza Center are positive for swine influenza virus and are similar to the swine influenza viruses recently identified in the United States.

For more information, please see the full Travel Health Warning for Mexico posted on April 27, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009 4 PM

I have just spoken to Dr. Luis Suarez, infectious disease physician in Puerto Vallarta. He reports that:

1. There are no confirmed cases in the state of Jalisco. 160 samples were taken and all were negative for Swine Flu.

2. There are no confirmed cases in the state of Nayarit.

3. Continue with precautionary measures including good hand washing, avoiding crowds, increase Vitamins B, K, A & D. Good ventilation in homes allowing the sun to enter.

4. Avoid hand-shaking, kissing.

5. He feels it is coming under good control in Mexico City.
Monday, April 27, 2009 12 Noon

No changes from data from yesterday except that 18 suspected cases in the state of Jalisco have been confirmed NOT TO BE SWINE FLU. Continue with precautions. Bars and discos have been closed until most likely May 6, 2009 for precautionary measures.
(more info HERE)
Sunday, April 26, 2009 11:30 AM

I have just had a lengthy conversation with an infectious disease physician from Vallarta, who is on his way back from an emergency meeting in Guadalajara.

THERE HAVE BEEN NO CONFIRMED CASES IN THE STATE OF JALISCO.

When I asked him if we are at risk here in Puerto Vallarta he said: Yes - every time someone sneezes we are at risk.

When I asked him what we can do to prevent being infected he said:

• Drink 50% more fluids than you normally do.

• Take Vitamin A, D and B Vitamins

• There IS NO vaccine available at this time. He stressed DO NOT RUSH OUT AND GET A FLU VACCINE - this is because for 3 weeks after receiving the flu vaccine, the body has a lower immune system.

• He did suggest staying away from crowded areas.

• Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash - hands, house, all areas.

I will speak with him again tomorrow for further updates.
Saturday, April 25, 2009 11:00 AM

The phones and emails are coming fast and furious regarding the Swine Flu we are all hearing about.

First, and very importantly, I am not a physician! But I do work with the best in Vallarta and I have spoken at length with several of them regarding everyone's questions and worries. This is a summary of our conversations:

• There have been no reported cases in Jalisco as of this morning.

• It is an air-borne virus

• There is no vaccine at this time. If you had a flu shot this year, it does not cover this new strain.

• As in all flu strains, the highest risk population are young children, elderly, people with respiratory problems & low resistance.

• Symptoms are a VERY high fever (39.C), severe body aches for 3-4 days.

• Should you experience these symptoms, go to a physician immediately. This can be treated with anti-viral medications in the first 72 hours.

What can be done to prevent being infected?

• Stay away from large crowds.

• Cover your mouth when you sneeze, cough (to avoid infecting others.)

• WASH, Wash, wash, and wash some more. I'd suggest purchasing the "gel" type of handwash that is available everywhere and wash as often as possible, especially after being in a public place, shaking hands, etc. Try to avoid touching your mouth, nose, eyes if you cannot wash your hands.

• Build up your immune system with fresh fruits with Vitamin C.

• Increase liquids.

All of the above are pretty much common sense suggestions, that are used to prevent any type of infection. You are welcome to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. I am always available to contact a good physician should you need one.

We think there is no need to panic about this. Just take proper precautions!

Thanks!
Pamela Thompson

Pamela Thompson has lived in Puerto Vallarta for over 17 years, 10 of them in health care. Pamela now leads HealthCare Resources Puerto Vallarta, a local healthcare resource network. Her years of experience and expertise are available to you by emailing your questions to pamela(at)healthcareresourcespv.com or by visiting HealthCareResourcesPV.com.

Click HERE to learn more about the health and well-being services offered by HealthCare Resources Puerto Vallarta.



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