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Rapid H1N1 Spread In South America Increases Concerns

Recombinomics Commentary 23:55
April 11, 2011

The private media yet again came under fire from President Hugo Chávez, this time for the manner in which it had covered the outbreak of Swine Flu. Chávez, who late Tuesday night insisted there were no cases of the disease in Venezuela

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez suspended the transmission of program of Alo Presidente on Sunday due to the strong flu he is suffering.

The Governor of Monagas, José Gregorio Briceño is the sixth confirmed case of H1N1 flu in the state, as regional officials said at a news conference Monday morning.

The regional president had been detected with strong flu symptoms from several days ago.

The above translations from Venezuela contain striking examples of a lack of transparency, where President Hugo Chavez denies H1N1 presence in the country and then cancels his weekly address three days later because he has “strong” flu.  That announcement was then followed by an admission that a regional president had confirmed H1N1.  The high profile cases suggest H1N1 is widespread in Venezuela and provide additional evidence suggesting the vaccine has little utility because it is likely that these high ranking politicians have been vaccinated.

This lack of transparency and use of vaccines to create "fences" in Mexico also signal rapid spread of H1N1.  Anecdotal reports describe patients appearing at Emergency Departments with common symptoms which include nose bleeds coupled with breathing difficulties.  The patients are filling up ICU beds in northern Mexico while the death toll is said to have stopped rising.  However, medical personnel are being trained in treatment of H1N1 ICU patients and vaccination drives are being launch near confirmed cases.

Initial sequence data from fatal cases identifies a novel H1N1 sub-clade with D225N.  The frequent detection of D225N in this sub-clade has been anecdotally reported for multiple countries south of Mexico, once again signaling rapid spread of a novel H1N1 that has escaped the immunity provided by prior H1N1 infections and/or vaccinations.

These anecdotal reports indicate rapid spread in Argentina as well as novel H1N1 detection in Chile and Ecuador, suggesting the novel sub-clade has spread throughout South America well in advance of the start of flu season for the southern hemisphere.

This spread is not being reported by WHO, and the presence of D225N at a high frequency has not been acknowledged.

The parallels with the emergence and spread of pandemic H1N1 in 2009 is striking.

Release of 2011 H1N1 sequences from the United States as well as severe and fatal cases in Central and South America is ovedue.

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