Saturday, July 04, 2009

It's the Future...It's the Future....It's the Future...It's

Things are a happening pretty quickly down south.

As the chilly damp air descends on the denizens of Uruguay, something more dangerous (perhaps) than even the annual bout of environmental depression lurks.

The Others

While the "others" (namely Chile and Argentina) seem to be getting the worst of it so far, the flu by the name of the "other" white meat has started to extract a toll in good ole Uruguay.


Well, Uruguay, my home country at the moment, nestles down between the dominating Argentina (to the west) and Brazil (to the north). It is a small country, with a small market, and finds itself routinely kicked around by its bigger neighbors in both trade negotiations and futbol matches.

Uruguay does however, have a strong social conscience --- born of fiscal excesses in the early part of last decade, and left in place, because franky nothing ever changes here, they have a relatively strong medical system, that will (if Argentina is an accurate indication of what's coming) will be tested dearly this winter.

The Swine Flu

Well, I've been beating around the bush for the better part of 8 paragraphs or so, and there -- i said it. This post is about the swine flu down here.

I know, i know, you're probably well past the saturation point if you live north of the equator. You already lived through it and can "tell the tale", right? Uh...not so fast. It hit really late in the flu season, and the first opportunity to watch it in action through a full winter has been the southern hemisphere.

In short, it's fortelling your future -- although that's not the only reason for the title of this post.

Situation on the Ground

This is moving very quickly (like the disease) and the numbers that are coming out of the various government agencies are a lesson (you'd rather not have) in infection rates. In subsequent days, Uruguay went from 150 or so infected and no deaths, to at least 10x the number of infected and 4 confirmed dead. Luckily, Uruguay, due in part by it's slow pace and lack of visitors this time of year is quite a ways behind Argentina.

Argentina Situation

Schools have been closed for nearly a month, and after a good month of underreporting the numbers, the media came out with the an estimate of 100k infected. 100k! I don't know, but nearly 50 are confirmed dead already. The estimate a week ago in argentina was 1500 infected.

What to do?

Well, apparently, one solution is to avoid contact with anyone :) Easier said than done in a city of 10MM (Montevideo is "only" 1.5MM). The other solutions, are to basically act like a thorasic surgeon everwhere you go and everything you do....masks, compulsive handwashing ('it's the future, it's the future, it's the future), staying away from people where possible -- much easier said than done where people kiss their grocers hello (and everyone else and their mother), hand sanitizing gel, never again touching for face for any reason, and all other manner of unrealistic disease avoidance strategies.

'gimme drugs, gimme drugs, gimme drugs'

...old welcome back kotter reference there. but, there is (some) help from pharmaceuticals -- namely relenza and better known tamiflu.

In Uruguay, by some miracle of God, (or governmental decree) tamiflu is available without prescription in farmacies. This is incredible, because you'll have a hard time getting anything stronger than aspirin without a script and things as simple as homeopathics and vitamins are very difficult to find, import, and procure without serious red tape and physicians being involved (often).

Of course, everyone and their mother is making a run on Tamiflu.

What really has some Uruguayos angry is that Argentina has been carrying out a roadblock on a bridge between Argentina and Uruguay for YEARS literally, under the 'excuse' of environmental contamination that might come when Uruguay opened a new paper mill on a shared river.

Anyone who knows anything, Argentina accusing Uruguay of environmentally damaging anything is laughable. It's like Oakland, CA condemning San Francisco because the criminal activity might spill over into Oakland.

Anyways, the "piqueteros" (picketers) who basically setup camp on teh bridge and don't allow anything to pass, decided (conveniently) to let argentinians come over to Uruguay to raid the Uruguayan drug stores for Tamiflu since it is available without prescription.

(not so) coincidentally, along with Montevideo, the regions bordering Argentina are where the first cases of swine flu are being reported.

I'll continue to keep you updated while holed up in my penthouse, in between feverishly washing my hands, peeing in empty milk bottles, growing hair and nails to legendary lengths and avoiding all contact with people.

"it's the future, it's the's the's the future...."


Brad said...

I've been checking in on your blog since last year when we first visited UY. Thanks for the information. My wife and I have now been here since March with our 18 month old daughter. I had heard several things are readily available at the pharmacy. Are you all stocked up on tamiflu? We're generally not too alarmist with these things, but considering we're on the front line and they just closed our daughter's jardin for the week...I might just have to make a trip to the local Farmashop to pick up some tamiflu. Do you happen to know how much it costs?

fuBarrio said...

hi brad,

2 boxes 10 each of the 75mg variety will run you 1075 uyp on a farmacy on ellauri (and anywhere else in the country i imagine).

took me two tries to find one with some in stock and in that case, bought the last two boxes (!)

other farmacy said more were coming in on "monday" -- might wanna get down there before the newspaper runs another estimate of b.a. infected at 10x the last report :)


fuBarrio said...


lots of public calls for limiting sales to prescription holders or (yikes) those holding uy cedulas (national i.d.s) maybe that cedula would have come in handy afterall huh? oops.

Brad said...

Sounds like you live around the corner from us. I'll add this to my list of things to do today. Thanks for the info!

Rodger Bailey said...

(the following comment is for entertainment purposes only and not a diagnosis or treatment advice for any illness or disease, etc . . .)

The pharmacies here offer something labeled "Colargentol Gotas" by Laboratorios Celsius. This is nasal drops made of a colloidal silver solution, which is a natural antibiotic (you can read more about Colloidal Silver in this site). Colloidal silver is reported to kill all viruses on contact.

It costs about 130-140 pesos for a 20ml dropper bottle.

We put 2-3 drops in water and swish it around in our mouth once or twice per day. I swallow it, my wife doesn't. In both our cases, the silver ends up in the blood stream and we believe that it prevents and/or treats any virus that is unlucky enough to enter our bodies.