Mexican flu could arrive to the Czech Republic in four or five weeks. That at least is the estimate of the main hygienist Michael Vít. Nonetheless, he does not know on what scale the flu will appear.
“There are many questions. How come that the flu has a difficult course and many dead in Mexico while in the US it is only a moderately serious flu without complications,” he said. That is what the epidemiological teams of the World Health Organisation went to Mexico to find out. There are three Czechs on one of the teams.
Two Czechs kept in hospital for observation
Two Czechs staying at Bulovka hospital are being tested on swine flu. “Those are mainly preventive examinations,” Vít told Hospodářské noviny. One man has also been examined at Motol hospital.
All three have recently returned from Mexico – one with a cold and the other with a mild flu. They, themselves, visited a doctor and asked for a virological examination. Vít thinks it will be a false alarm. “Neither of them has the typical symptoms or a fever,” he added.
There is a new sign at Prague Airport informing people to visit a doctor in case of any suspicion.
Have you got Tamiflu?
Pharmacies have started recording an increased demand for Tamiflu and Relenza medication. Both of them can help fight the swine flu virus. Only a few pharmacies have them, though. “We have already ordered some and will receive them on Tuesday,” said Jitka Holíková from pharmacy on Socháňova street in Prague 6.
Both medications are only available on prescription. The pharmacy at the teaching hospital Motol sold some on Monday. There is an additional payment of CZK 400. According to Vít there is unnecessary panic. “We will have to talk to the doctors, so that they do not give in to the patients’ panic,” Vít said. The Czech Republic has more than 2 million packages of Tamiflu in store from the times of the bird flu three years ago. “They have been tested, they have the same effectivity like the new medications,” Vít said. The state mainly keeps them for people important for the running of the country. “But we can decide to use some of them for treatment,” he said.
Vít said there is no need for any extraordinary measures – it is necessary to observe the rules of hygiene, though. Zdeněk Pospíšil from the veterinary and pharmaceutical faculty of Brno university agrees. “I would recommend to take care of hygiene – use paper tissues, be more hygiene-aware and wash your hands more often,” he said.
Nevertheless, the chief hygienist designated Bulovka teaching hospital as the headquarters for “fight” against swine flu – the hospital got 30 beds ready. “On Monday we also agreed to get the infection medicine clinics in all teaching hospitals and some regional ones ready,” Vít said.
The Health Ministry has also begun talks with flu medication producers concerning production of an “anti-pandemic vaccine” against swine flu. While there was no vaccine against bird flu, it should not be a problem to prepare one against the swine flu. Pospíšil warns that it will not be straightaway, though.
“It is not easy to prepare a vaccine against the new virus. The virus must be isolated and the vaccine must be tested.” According to Pospíšil, the shortest period for a vaccine to reach the market is three months.
The Foreign Ministry has not yet pronounced Mexico to be a dangerous zone – the ministry only issued a recommendation for people to be cautious when travelling to Mexico, and it also put together list of hygienic rules to follow there.
“So far, not one of the 27 EU countries has issued any restrictive measures,” Vít said. He says the EU should move jointly in this case. The unified approach should be discussed at the Thursday extraordinary meeting of EU health ministers.