After recording twelve fatalities due to H1N1 influenza in recent weeks, the Government of Panama announced a national health alert as the health ministry said that the country is at the gates of a flu epidemic.

flu virus
Generic influenza virion

Health officials note that nearly 550 people are hospitalized influenza A (H1N1), including 57 patients being treated in intensive care units.

“The situation we have detected is that there are cases aggravated faster, that is the unusual behavior, aggravation and rapid death,” according to Lourdes Garcia, an epidemiologist at the Ministry of Health.

Xavier Saez Llorens, infectious disease specialist and medical director of Santo Tomas Hospital (HST) said, “The latest figures indicate that MoH is on the line epidemic.

“It is important to get vaccinated before the start of the influenza outbreak, following the entry of the rainy season.”

The first death of this outbreak took place on Jan. 5. The first cases of swine flu were detected in Panama in 2009.