The next epidemic

The reason for the existence of this blog is the education of our community, with publications that are critical, not complacent, and that in theory encourage the discussion of certain topics related to health care for the growth of all. Let's start this post with one fact and one speculation.

Fact: In our country there are several potentially fatal viruses and, among them, Hantavirus. It was detected in 2000 in the Azuero peninsula and is transmitted by Oligoryzomys fulvescens and Zygodontomys brevicauda mice. These vectors are found from Darien to Chiriquí.

Speculation: Although the endemic provinces for Hantavirus are Los Santos, Coclé, Veraguas and Herrera, given that these mice and human beings exist in all provinces, cases could potentially occur throughout the country.

Wasn't this information dip refreshing?

Let's go now to the topic of today's post: the province of Darien. The province of Darién has taken on an important role because, being adjacent to Colombia, all people who migrate illegally through the isthmus enter through the Darién Gap, one of the most dangerous sections of jungle in the world, not only because of the natural conditions, but due to organized crime that assaults, rapes and murders migrants, as well as specifically trafficked cocaine in the area. This is a fact.

Another fact is that known and unknown infectious diseases abound in the tropical forest, which are often transmitted by different vectors, when compared to other continents, but which ultimately infect us humans. Clear examples are hemorrhagic fevers such as dengue, malaria and yellow fever, which are not exclusive to our continent.

A third, undeniable fact is that the illegal migration of people does not entail sanitary controls. We do not know the infectious status of the migrants. We may know of an incident when they are rescued by the authorities, given that in our country the Ministry of Health mandates health care for nationals and foreigners in the national territory, but ... and what about those who manage to follow their path towards the United States of America and Canada undetected?

This is where the speculation begins. Our rainforests in America have species of fruit bats and primates that could harbor the Ebola virus, a high-mortality hemorrhagic fever largely confined to Africa. The virus can also be transmitted by human body fluids, from one person to another. So the conditions exist for infections from other countries and continents to spread to our country.

We don't have to go too far with this, because current evidence points to the zoonotic origin, that is, from animal to human, of the current pandemic, SARS-Cov-2 or COVID-19, and many scientists estimate that the next pandemic may come from from Brazil, through bats due to human incursion into the Amazon jungle.

Are we prepared for the next pandemic?

The truth is that culturally we put ourselves in constant danger. Other countries had their second waves of the current pandemic due to the movement of asymptomatic patients (carriers) during the end of the year holidays. In our country there have also been recent mobilizations for the carnivals, a situation that the National Government anticipated. However, the wear and tear of members of the police and health personnel may end up tipping the balance toward the entrance of an infectious disease with which we have no experience and which could well cross the entire country before being detected.

Zoonosis, Hantavirus, Dengue, Ébola, SARS-CoV-2, Covid-19, África, Yellow fever, Bats, Rodents, Mice, Mouse, Brazil

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