Swine flu in Cusco?

Obvious disadvantage to living in a tourist town… From Diario del Cusco:

“El Ministro de Salud Oscar Ugarte precisó que se trata de una guía de turismo cusqueña que estuvo en contacto en días pasados con un grupo de turistas mexicanos que arribaron a la Ciudad Imperial el pasado viernes y desarrollaron la acostumbrada visita a los centros de atracción. La joven cuya identificación se mantiene en reserva por consideraciones al estado de salud, presentaba sintomatología similar al de la gripe porcina y fue sometida a exámenes inmediatos los cuales resultaron negativos en un primer estado. Este primer indicio motivó preocupación por la aparición del virus H1N1 causante de la crisis de salud que ha puesto al mundo al borde de la temida pandemia según precisó la Organización Mundial de la Salud no se trata de una gripe común.”

Hopefully these suspected cases will turn out ok. More info here regarding H1N1 swine flu.

One question that has been asked is why the “swine flu” is deadlier in Mexico than elsewhere. I’m no scientist, but I would look at the impact of the elevation of Mexico City (2,240 meters or 7,349 feet msl). Of course, Cusco is at an even higher elevation of 3,400 meters (~11,000 feet).

Here in Latin America there are several mega-cities, such as Mexico City (est. 19 million population) and Lima (est. 7-9 million population). Stuart has done a great job describing the mass migration to Lima over the past several decades. I’ve never been a big fan of mega-cities, and an outbreak such as the current swine flu only makes me wonder about the logic of millions of people living so close together.

Hopefully these reports of swine flu in Cusco will turn out to be the result of increased sensitivity, not actual cases of the swine flu.

UPDATE: according to El Comercio, swine flu has been ruled out in this case.

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