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Sunday 11 March 2012 | Central America News. News on Central America continually updated.

Four Deaths and 55 Cases of A (H1N1) in Guatemala

Infections with the influenza virus A (H1N1) recorded an increase in Guatemala, with 55 confirmed cases and four deaths.

In addition to the deaths of two adults in hospitals in the capital, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said two children died in late February in the central-eastern department of Zacapa.

They were part of seven children who had died of unknown causes, and further analysis determined that two of the cases died from the virus.

Health facilities handle up to 50,000 cases of acute respiratory infections and colds per week, said the director of the National Epidemiology Center, Francisco Ardon, quoted by the newspaper Prensa Libre.

Of the confirmed cases in the course of this year, symptoms in 493 persons made them suspicious of influenza and of those 55 were confirmed: 52 of type A and three of type B, the source added.

President Otto Perez Molina reiterated the instruction to the ministry of health to take all safety and prevention measures and ensure the availability of Tamiflu, a drug used against the A (H1N1) influenza.

Sector officials said that despite not having the product in large quantities, there is no shortage and hospitals are prepared for any eventuality, and a yellow alert remains in force. They reaffirmed that Venezuela sent three thousand doses of vaccine against the virus, they are awaiting another two thousand promised by Mexico and 410,000 were purchased from the Pan American Health Organization.

Before the end of March, the authorities intend to start a vaccination campaign for children under five and older adults, the groups most vulnerable to the virus, as well as staff of the health care network.

At year's end they hope to have 1,200,000 units to confront any emergency.

As soon as an infected person is confirmed, the vaccine is applied to the entire family and the people with whom the person had contact.

The A (H1N1) virus was detected for the first time in Guatemala in 2009 when the health ministry registered more than 620 cases, 11 of whom died.





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