Virus strains head to US
PANAMA. The A/H1N1 influenza virus keep gaining ground in Panama, with 73 confirmed cases so far in the country, as the Gorgas Institut...
PANAMA. The A/H1N1 influenza virus keep gaining ground in Panama, with 73 confirmed cases so far in the country, as the Gorgas Institute prepares to send virus strains to the US to help in the creation of a vaccine against the disease.
From the confirmed cases in Panama, 34 are male and 39 female. 62 percent of the affected (45 cases) are children younger than 15. Of the total, 47 are located in Panama City, as the virus spreads to the Interior with one confirmed case in Cocle (Penonome), and 6 in Colon.
All of the infected people are being treated at home, not in hospitals, according to the Health Ministry. No deaths have been reported.
On Monday, Panama will send four strains of the A/H1N1 influenza virus and the statistics and clinical information on its behavior, which will contribute to the development of a vaccine against this disease, thus helping reduce the risks of a worldwide pandemic.
To learn more about what is being sent, the process through which the strains are obtained, and how the vaccines are produced, La Estrella met with Mariana Garcia, head of the Virology Department at the Gorgas Institute.
According to Garcia, a strain is a variation of a virus. For example, with influenza, the strains that are being sent are not the original virus, but a variation or mutation of it.
Among the diagnoses for the new virus, doctors take a sample of the disease from a patient and remove the virus’ DNA.
As viruses need living cells to develop, the Institute’s laboratory allows for the viruses to artificially grow by inoculation of a sample into a cell, which is then kept under observation for five days.
The virus starts destroying the tissue, a process which is closely observed. After five days, the material is collected and submitted to tests, after which doctors can say they have a strain.
The specialist explained that the results of this process is what is being sent to the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO scientists will now take the virus genome and compare them with samples from other countries which will help find the common denominators from which to make a vaccine.
The WHO Friday officially reported 11,168 confirmed cases of A/H1N1 influenza in 42 countries, with 86 confirmed deaths.