Luckily in the US, there have been no deaths as of yet from the Swine Flu, however given the level of government response, accelerating at a very fast pace, one wonders if the media reports are truthful, especially centering in on the reports of what's actually going on in Mexico. We can't know what will happen until we better understand what has already transpired, and some of these first person accounts via the BBC are shockingly chilling.
On regional Preparedness, from Monterrey
Over the last two weeks we started seeing patients with high fever, muscle aches, sore throats and coughs. Those symptoms seemed a bit odd for us, but we didn't diagnose them with swine flu as we didn't know about it.
On Sunday we had our first death in the area. It was someone who came from Mexico City. But we don't have the means to confirm whether it was as a result of swine flu.
More than anything, we lack equipment and laboratory kits. All we can do is look at the symptoms and make a clinical diagnosis.
In the pharmacies, there is no Tamiflu available. They only have another medication and they don't even have enough of that.
All of these are reported on the Internet and they're not exactly 100% full proof verified, however, given the repetitive nature of many posts, they scare the shit out of me and make me wonder if the government is taking enough precautions and if the media is receiving in the whole story.
On the timing of the Alert and reaction time
I am a doctor and I work in the State of Mexico. I don't work in the shock team; I am in the echocardiography team, but I do get some news from my colleagues in the hospital. There have been some cases of young people dying from respiratory infections, but this happened before the alert and they were not reported because the necessary tests weren't done. We doctors knew this was happening a week before the alert was issued and were told to get vaccinated. I went to buy some anti-virals for my husband, who is also a doctor, because he had contact with a young patient who presented influenza symptoms and died. I don't think pharmacies stock enough anti-virals.
I understand the government doesn't want to generate panic, but my personal opinion is that they issued the alert too late. Still now, the population is not getting the information they need. We have been out in the street and some people are not wearing face masks and are not taking any preventive measures.
Guadalupe, Mexico City
On the actual mortality rate & viable treatment options
I'm a specialist doctor in respiratory diseases and intensive care at the Mexican National Institute of Health. There is a severe emergency over the swine flu here. More and more patients are being admitted to the intensive care unit. Despite the heroic efforts of all staff (doctors, nurses, specialists, etc) patients continue to inevitably die. The truth is that anti-viral treatments and vaccines are not expected to have any effect, even at high doses. It is a great fear among the staff. The infection risk is very high among the doctors and health staff.
There is a sense of chaos in the other hospitals and we do not know what to do. Staff are starting to leave and many are opting to retire or apply for holidays. The truth is that mortality is even higher than what is being reported by the authorities, at least in the hospital where I work it. It is killing three to four patients daily, and it has been going on for more than three weeks. It is a shame and there is great fear here. Increasingly younger patients aged 20 to 30 years are dying before our helpless eyes and there is great sadness among health professionals here.
Antonio Chavez, Mexico City
On the truth about the death toll, as provided sometime Sunday when the toll was still @ 200
I work as a resident doctor in one of the biggest hospitals in Mexico City and sadly, the situation is far from "under control". As a doctor, I realise that the media does not report the truth. Authorities distributed vaccines among all the medical personnel with no results, because two of my partners who worked in this hospital (interns) were killed by this new virus in less than six days even though they were vaccinated as all of us were. The official number of deaths is 20, nevertheless, the true number of victims are more than 200. I understand that we must avoid to panic, but telling the truth it might be better now to prevent and avoid more deaths.
Yeny Gregorio Dávila, Mexico City
I'm not a doctor or a Virologist, so I cannot explain how this has been reportedly killing many young healthy Mexicans for weeks, including Doctors & nurses who were treated with vacines and anti-virals. Maybe there is a nutritional level difference, maybe a treatment level different.
Very possibly, the ability of the Mexican healthcare system to respond is limited compared to the US, however if some of the posts regarding morbidity rates and actual treatment effectiveness prove to be closer to the truth, then we may indeed be in for a long hard spring.