Brazil has about 3,000 confirmed H1N1 cases
| Jun 29, 2016
High sudden fever, severe cough, constant headache, lack of appetite, chills and joint and muscle pain are the main symptoms of H1N1 flu, which is worrying Brazilians.
This year the H1N1 epidemic started earlier – in late summer – and has had more than 3,000 confirmed cases. Called swine flu or influenza A, the disease is caused by the H1N1 virus, and its severe forms can cause pneumonia and respiratory failure.
"There is no definitive explanation for the early arrival of the virus. Experts discuss hypotheses that include climatic factors and even the increase in international travel, which may have brought the current H1N1 virus from the northern hemisphere, "says Luciano Paladini, Medical Analyst, Evidências – Kantar Health.
H1N1 has very similar characteristics to the common flu. However, it can cause major damage to the respiratory system and even lead to death if the person does not seek medical help in time. This year alone, Brazil has reported 1,003 deaths from complications of the disease, according to data published in June by the Ministry of Health. A pandemic hit in 2009, killing 2,060 people in Brazil alone.
Vaccination and prevention
Early increase in the number of cases prompted the government to anticipate the start of the annual vaccination campaign in 2016. In addition to the vaccination campaign, the government has invested in prevention campaigns. "The information on preventive measures, in addition to vaccination and hygiene measures, is useful and has been conveyed by the health ministry," Paladini says. "Another important measure is the epidemiological surveillance. The Ministry of Health has a network of sentinel centers that monitor the data related to infection by H1N1 and its complications, and identify the outstanding virus strains at any given time. This network was essential for the identification of the early outbreak in Brazil this year and communicating the necessary steps to try to control it."
Another important measure taken by the Brazilian government was the publication of a protocol for the prevention and treatment of H1N1 flu, which helps in standardization of care measures by professionals and health workers. The protocol provides for the supply of antiviral drugs for the treatment of identified cases.
From April 30 to May 20, the Ministry of Health ran 452 commercials on network TV about the campaign to prevent and combat the H1N1 virus - the equivalent of R$4 million in advertising spend in the 15 markets surveyed by Kantar IBOPE Media. The survey found that more than 26 million people were affected by the ads, with each individual viewing, on average, two commercials on the H1N1 issue. Among the markets with the highest volume of purchased advertising space in this period, 36% of TV investment was concentrated in São Paulo, followed by Rio de Janeiro (15%) and Belo Horizonte (12%). The other markets covered in the analysis by Kantar Media IBOPE are Belem, Brasilia, Campinas, Curitiba, Florianópolis, Fortaleza, Goiania, Manaus, Porto Alegre, Recife, Salvador and Vitoria.
"It is reasonable to assume that such campaigns at least help adherence to vaccination strategies. Evidence shows that people informed about the risks and complications of infection with influenza virus, and the benefits of vaccination by official sources, such as the government, are more likely to adhere to vaccination strategies," Paladini says.