A H1N1 descends on Las Salinas

Trip Start May 10, 2009
Trip End Sep 03, 2009

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host family

Flag of Nicaragua  , Rivas,
Tuesday, June 16, 2009

       A positive
case of A H1N1 was discovered in an American tourist in Las Salinas on
June 16, 2009. In response to this finding, we, the staff at the
clinic, had to manage the situation in order to ensure that the patient
had not infected others in his hotel or anyone in the community. Since
I speak both English and Spanish, I served as an interpreter when the
team was visiting the hotel of the patient. Additionally, with my
training as an emergency medical technician, was able to take down
necessary health-related information. I also visited individual houses
with my supervisor to notify the population of the positive case and to
educate them on prevention methods. As we were going around to other
hotels, we discovered that none of them had gotten wind of this news.
This situation needed to be rectified immediately, as the tourism
industry is the interface with the most potencial for the transmission
of the virus. A) Tourists could bring the virus into the community and
possible infect the workers at the hotel, who are mostly locals. B) If
there were a local case (for example, if someone got infected whilst
traveling from Managua, where a majority of the cases have been), they
could likewise transmit the disease to tourists. Thus, I traveled with
Ministry of Health officials to give the same public health workshops
and to fortify the communication between the clinic and the hotels
(with my project mini fund, we were able to buy a cell phone for the
clinic - before, there was no way for people to contact the health
          Whilst it was very exciting to work on the frontlines
against this epidemic, this work proved extremely challenging for a
variety of reasons; The timing of the arrival of A H1N1 was pretty
awful (of course, these things never come at a convenient time) because
it was the end of the month, when the clinic has to make all sorts of
reports... so although the ministry of health thought that visiting the
other hotels to spread this news was a good idea, they refused to
provide transportation for us to go to these hotels (and these hotels
were about 40 minutes drive from our clinic) Therefore I had to look to
other sources of support. I ended up collaborating with a private
clinic on this undertaking, but the contact we had there acted as if it
were only a project that concerned the PUBLIC clinic, even though
wouldn't it make sense to think of it as public health work that is in
the interest of everyone? In any case, we have to make the best of the
resources that we can access and not dwell on the things that we lack, which has been an invaluable lesson.
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