Sunday, June 14, 2009

First Community Outbreak of H1N1 in Philippines

The first community outbreak in the country is worrisome for two reasons: First, the victims were exposed to the virus due to a medical mission and second, everyone got the virus locally. (see story here). This is quite dangerous, since the virus is now spreading locally and even doctors don't know how to handle such a potentially virulent strain of the virus.

The Department of Health (DoH) seems capable of doing its job but, somewhere, somewhat, it's bungling it. They want to allay fears by telling that the virus is "mild", and not lethal. Yet, it says that the potential of the virus morphing into a more virulent strain is there. And how would it happen?

By the potential of the virus in constant contact with its human hosts. If the human host has a weak constitution and has other viruses, the virus would adapt and cause a "morphing" in the genetic pool. The reason why other countries tried to contain the virus is it wants to avoid such mixing of genetic material from this virus to the next to avoid a contagious situation, similar to the 1918-1920 Spanish flu global pandemic which killed 600 million people.

Here in the Philippines, the DOH must probably consult with the US Center on Disease Control and Prevention. It seems that DOH really don't know what to do anymore. And with classes opening tomorrow, the chances of this virus spreading faster and wider remains high.

Government should probably suspend the opening of classes tomorrow and instead, announce opening in July. THat would allow DoH and the DECS to ensure that schools and their medical teams are well-prepared for possible new community outbreaks in other places, like Metro Manila. DoH should not be too complacent about this virus.