Although the Northern Hemisphere's flu season is in full retreat, South America's flu season - at least in those countries south of the tropical belt - usually begins in late May or early June and runs through August.
This year, however, we've seen consistent reports of early flu - first in Brazil (see April 9th Unseasonable Seasonal Flu In São Paulo) - and more recently reported by the media in Argentina and Bolivia.
The WHO's latest Influenza update - (#262) - based on data as of April 17th - noted:
In parts of tropical South America, low but increasing influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 activity was reported. In Brazil, influenza activity was already above expected levels for this time of year with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus predominating.
Overnight Bolivian media carried numerous reports of increased flu activity (predominantly H1N1), and the declaration of an epidemiological alert by the Health Ministry.
Declared an epidemiological alert in the department of La Paz
La Paz, (DAY)
Wednesday 18, May 2016
The head of the Epidemiology Unit of the Departmental Health Service (Headquarters), Johnny Ayllón, reported yesterday that the department declared the Epidemiological Alert, due to increased cases of H1N1 flu last year.
"The Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI) are increasing cases of acute respiratory infections Graves (SARI), which are of most concern because it causes sudden fever, cough, sore throat, and other ailments were also presented, but also recorded cases of SARI-I, also known as Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Inustidado, which are those that do not respond to treatment and requires hospitalization and exhaustive control "Ayllon, who said that in these cases can even cause death said.
The authority said the increased HEADQUARTERS these cases are disturbing and, at the moment, there have been 32 cases of influenza A (H1N1) since the beginning of April and May; management compared to 2014 where only 8 cases and 2015 a total of 16 cases throughout the year, "this increase is alarming and requires us to declare this alert" was recorded.
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Similar reports are also coming from Argentina, as in:
Viedma -The reappearance of influenza A and respiratory diseases increased concern in Viedma. Apparently this is a common denominator in the rest of the province and the country. So much so that in recent days from hospitals rio negrinos claimed the Ministry of Health providing more respirators to this increase. Whether it be authorized the purchase in the province.
Only on Monday morning four people were hospitalized with such pictures in the hospital Zatti Viedma while two patients were referred to social work to the private sector. In addition a child of this capital was derived Roca.
Medical professionals consulted by this newspaper agreed estimate a further increase in the coming weeks and possible complications.
While hospital authorities deny it, it is estimated that viedmense hospital has collapsed in its ability to hospitalization. Several patients are in intensive care on life support and the majority in the general ward.
Accessed hospital director Jose Luis Rovasio admitted a remarkable increase in both inpatient consultations and patients from respiratory diseases, confirming that in some cases treated was detected influenza A.
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The arrival, and severity of seasonal flu can vary greatly around the world, as we saw this year in the northern hemisphere. While Russia and Eastern Europe saw a severe flu season that began in January (see ECDC Risk Assessment : Reports Of Severe A(H1N1)pdm09 In Europe) the flu season across most of North America was late and mild.
While most of the concerns with the Summer Olympics in Rio have centered around the Zika virus, influenza - if it is still circulating 90 days from now in Brazil - could be a factor as well.
Although it isn't always predictive of next fall's Northern Hemisphere flu season, we keep close tabs on how the flu season unfolds in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and South America during our off season.
Trends that begin in one hemisphere have a tendency to carry over into the opposite hemisphere's next flu season.
Given the amount of international travel expected for the Olympics in August, that could make it an even bigger factor than usual. So we'll be paying particular attention to South America's flu season this year.