San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

First 5 cases of H1N1 flu detected in Nicaragua

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – As the World Health Organization considers declaring Influenza A(H1N1) a world pandemic, the Sandinista government has reported the first five cases of the virus detected in Nicaragua.

The first case, a young girl, was reported here May 1. Authorities have quarantined the patient in a hospital in Managua to contain the spread of the virus. More than a dozen other suspected cases have been tested. Of those, the Health Ministry reported Wednesday afternoon that four more cases have been confirmed.

The government of President Daniel Ortega responded quickly to the first reports of swine flu in April. The government put the entire country on health alert, mobilized party groups and state medics to visit towns and educate people about precautionary measures, and secured its borders.

At the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport in Managua, health workers surveyed all arriving guests and measured the temperature of everyone entering the country by “photographing” them with a thermal camera to detect fever. As a result of the government´s early efforts, Nicaragua was the last country in Central America to register any cases of swine flu, becoming – as one European diplomat put it recently – “an island in the region.”

Health officials are now working to isolate the detected cases to keep the virus from spreading in Nicaragua.

Worldwide, the virus has caused 19,273 cases of infection in 66 countries, resulting in 117 deaths.

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