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Jan 15, 2014

29 year old Belize City woman dies from Influenza A-H1N1 (Swine Flu)

The H1N1 also known as the swine flu has resurfaced in the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico. But there is no need to panic, there is need for caution, because in Belize, only one person, a female, has died from the Influenza. That was confirmed by the Ministry of Health this morning at a press briefing held at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. Director of Medical Services, Doctor Michael Pitts, and other medical personnel reported on the results made available on Tuesday by the Caribbean Regional Public Health Agency in Trinidad. Five cases were sent for testing, the results show that three females tested positive; two were treated and released from the Western Regional Hospital. But the third, twenty-nine year old Belize City resident, Shahera Bodden, died on the sixth of January, four days after she was admitted to the K.H.M.H. with severe pneumonia and kept isolated in the Intensive Care Unit. Since then, some twenty-six other samples have been tested locally.


Dr. Michael Pitts, Director of Medical Services

“Last week Monday, we got the report over the weekend of five cases with severe illness—one in the private sector and four in the public sector. And so we said that it was important for us to determine what was the cause for those cases and we said in particular let’s rule out the influenza viruses with particular attention to H-one N-one and any of those subgroups. In Belize we have the capability to do the initial screen and we did that, however, we have the backup confirmatory arrangement with CARPHA in Trinidad and we use that facility.”


Marvin Manzanero

Marvin Manzanero, Epidemiologist, Ministry of Health

“From the five cases reported or that Doctor Pitts mentioned, only one came back for H-one N-one, which was the patient that died last week Monday. The other two cases are from Western Region, H-one N-one positive, but these patients are ambulatory patients that have recovered and they had no further complications. Of the other patients that were considered to be severe cases, one of the patients tested positive for adenovirus, which is another virus in a common cold and the other patient came back as no virus found. So that out of the five cases that we had suspected, there is only one case that could be attributed to being related directly to H-one N-one. Out of the twenty-six samples that have been done at Central Medical Lab as patients being swabbed because of the flu, nineteen of those cases had no virus being found on the initial swab. So in point of fact, we did have three H-one N-one positive cases and one death that can be linked to that person.”


Michael Pitts

Dr. Michael Pitts

“The normal patterns for diseases is that the majority are present within the mild forms and on the right, the tale end, you have very few. Perhaps—I don’t want to guess a number now—but what I can tell you that the report for example in Sacramento; fourteen deaths related to H1N1, but then the number of cases might have been more than ten thousand. So that is the pattern that is emerging. Interestingly what we have said in ’11 and ’12 is that H1N1 was operating like the seasonal influenza, but viruses can modify over short space of time so every time you see a severe case, you have to look. But so far, the fatality rate, which is the trigger point, hasn’t been high. And it is the responsiveness of the system—population along with doctors—that can keep those numbers down.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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