Page last updated at 17:46 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 18:46 UK

Swine flu: Your experiences

Readers in the areas affected by the swine flu outbreak have been sending their accounts to the BBC. The map above shows the location of eyewitness and BBC reports. For a map which charts the spread of the disease over time go here.


My partner and I returned to Birmingham from Cancun yesterday morning at 08:20am. There were no members of the health department there to meet us, over 400 people passed through without help or advise being offered.

We returned home to our seven-months-old daughter and in-laws. Last night we developed many of the symptoms listed.

I contacted the NHS Direct and after several hours we were asked to go to the hospital ourselves. We had to wait in A&E before being seen by doctors dressed in masks, aprons and gloves.

We have high temperatures over 38 degrees, aches, coughing and sneezing, diarrhoea and nausea. The hospital prescribed us both with Tamiflu and told us to drive to a chemist in Coventry, we waited for 15 minutes surrounded by other people before we had the Tamiflu.

The chemist informed us that they only had one dose available and that we would need to return the following day. This morning we were contacted by the HPA, we informed them of the situation and they told us that under no circumstances should we leave the house.

We are waiting the results now, we are very concerned about our daughter and family around us as it looks like we have now infected them.
Richard Cook, Nuneaton, UK


It usually takes me about 40 minutes to get to work. Today it took me less than 20 minutes. There is no traffic, no parents taking their kids to work, no tourists. Buses are half-empty, with most passengers wearing face masks. The absence of tourists is striking. There are no tourists riding the bus or walking the streets. No tourists. The virus has not travelled to Puerto Vallarta, but tourists have stopped coming. The almost palpable absence of the latter could turn out to be as bad as, or even worse than, the presence of swine flu. As locals half-jokingly, half-seriously, comment, "If it spreads to Vallarta, the virus might kill us; hunger will surely kill us." I am afraid to admit that Vallarta residents seem to have it right: no tourists, no money, no food. I wonder if our fear of a possible pandemic, along with all the preventive measures that are causing a serious economic slow-down (cancelled flights, closed restaurants, etc.), will not trigger an economic crisis much more deadly than the flu itself.
Chavdarova, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

I am on holiday in the Yucatan peninsula and everything here is fine. No cases of flu. Tourist arrivals have reduced greatly and therefore it is much quieter in the hotels and restaurants. People should remember that Mexico City is a vast city and the rest of Mexico is fine.
Scott Bailey, London, on holiday in Mexico

I am currently 'trapped' with my family in a luxury hotel in Cancun. We are here for my daughter's wedding, which sadly we have had to cancel as half of the wedding party are still in the UK after their flights were cancelled. Contrary to reports we are not being repatriated by the tour operator (unless we pay) and the hotel wants to charge us for cancelling the wedding!
Jim Rollinson, Romford, Essex

I work in the "ER" of a rural hospital in the Glades and we see a large portion of our population who are migrant workers and the poor. We have only seen normal seasonal flu symptoms and are swabbing with nasal cultures for Influenza a and b and if that comes back positive then we swab with the special deep nasal swab for H1N1, package it as per protocol and send it to the CDC lab site. So far we have not seen any confirmed cases of the H1N1 flu, but we are attempting to educate all the patients that come into the ER about hand washing, covering their mouths when sneezing or coughing, staying away from crowds, etc. We are wearing masks when treating patients with cold like symptoms, and goggles, protecting gowns and gloves. But so far, so good, FOR NOW!! Blessings to all the people who serve in healthcare, your services are needed now more than ever before.
Judith Jensen, Florida, USA

I am a girl from Finland staying in a village in Oaxaca, Mexico, as an exchange student. On Monday, they told us that we would not be having classes until the 6th May. There are so many rumours here, but you do not know what is true, although it feels really creepy. I feel like its just a matter of time until we all get this flu. It seems like it spreads so quickly and so easily. This scares me a lot. I really want to stay here in Mexico, I have grown to love it so much during the eight months I have been here, but if this get worse I do not know if I have the guts to stay.
Josefin Horhammer, Helsinki, Finland


I arrived in Mexico City on Saturday then flew on to Monterrey for business.

Stephen Kyle taking precautions in Mexico

I am now back in Mexico City and I have brought my meetings forward so I can leave Mexico and fly back to the UK as soon as possible.

I have literally gone from hotel, to enclosed car, to clients office, wearing my newly acquired mask!

When I first arrived I was very blasé about the swine flu outbreak but now I am concerned.

I have been here dozens of times before. Mexico City is usually busy - you normally cannot move, but now its very quiet. There is still traffic but the volume is so minimal.

My trip from the airport took 20 minutes instead of an hour and ten minutes.

I am staying at the Four Seasons and on my arrival the restaurants were closed.

Apart from my meetings I won't venture outside the hotel. I think I am going to stay in my room

This morning the breakfast service was available for the few guests staying. Whether they will open Tuesday night is another question. The spa and the bars are all closed.

Apart from my meetings I won't venture outside the hotel. I think I am going to stay in my room. People are dying and I do not want to put myself in the firing line.

I phoned British Airways to change my flight from Mexico City to leave as soon as possible back to the UK and initially they said my business class booking could not be changed.

They have since updated this directive and I am booked to fly out tomorrow evening at 9.35pm which is the next available flight.

I have not done much business but at least I am going home.

I am very relieved.
Stephen Kyle, Mexico City, Mexico

I'm a 24 years old male and live in Mexico City. Right now the principal actions taken in Mexico are of prevention. All cultural, cleric and scholar activities have been cancelled, most recreation sites such as movie theatres and parks are closed too. At my work place last night they informed us that we can work from home, but for most people this isn't a possibility.
Enrique, Mexico City, México

I live in Mexico city...I am actually studying here! Mexico city isn't the cleanliest of places and people's attitude make it worse. Nearly half of the 20 million people are not wearing their masks and some are acting as if it's normal to have this flu with their 'I don't care' attitude. I give the Mexican government an E for effort. Rumours are flying everywhere and on the news here in Mexico its the same report over and over again. So yes, I am worried.
Rachael, Mexico City

I am living in Oaxaca state where reportedly the first death occurred from swine flu. The town here is known for its great surf and relaxed atmosphere, but even here the fear is beginning to enter people's daily conversation. The mentality of those living here is varied, some feel it is almost a joke and only media hype, but then you have people like myself who just booked the first flight available back to the United States.
Matthaios Tz, Puerto Escondio, Mexico


This is something that we are taking very seriously, which is why the government and the authorities have implemented preventative measures - from the use of masks to our recommendation that they avoid greeting one another with a kiss or even a handshake. They have acted correctly. It makes me proud to know that we have such a good system of epidemiological health in Mexico.

I think that we will see a lower number of new cases in the coming days
Dr Alejandro Vargas, Mexico City

The hospitals are coping well. Some people have complained of long queues - but these are mostly alarmist types. People shouldn't be going to hospital just because they're sneezing. If too many people show up at emergency rooms then the system could collapse. But, we have many hospitals and they have all been working to implement the measures.

We have enough anti-virals. I had the opportunity to speak with the person in charge of the purchasing of all medications for the Mexican Social Security Institute and they told me that they worked on this the entire weekend. There is definitely enough.

The cases that are materialising now are those related to infections that occurred before the measures were put in place. However, it's going to be a while before we get the results. I think that we will see a lower number of new cases in the coming days and I think the measures will prove to be successful.
Dr Alejandro Vargas, Mexico City

I'm a doctor responsible for managing vaccines in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon.

Over the last two weeks we started seeing patients with high fever, muscle aches, sore throats and coughs. Those symptoms seemed a bit odd for us, but we didn't diagnose them with swine flu as we didn't know about it.

On Sunday we had our first death in the area. It was someone who came from Mexico City. But we don't have the means to confirm whether it was as a result of swine flu.

We need to have the means to diagnose people and, most importantly, the means to offer them treatment
Dr Vicente Torres, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico

More than anything, we lack equipment and laboratory kits. All we can do is look at the symptoms and make a clinical diagnosis.

In the pharmacies, there is no Tamiflu available. They only have another medication and they don't even have enough of that.

So the vaccines we have are not enough we don't have the medication required. People here are not aware that this flu outbreak can kill people.

On behalf of all the medical community in Nuevo Leon I'd like to ask for help to get the medication, so we can treat people.

We need to have the means to diagnose people and, most importantly, the means to offer them treatment.
Dr Vicente Torres, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico

I have been trying to purchase face masks for myself and my family - my wife and two children - but haven't been able to get one anywhere.

I have visited six pharmacies in the area and all are sold out. None are expecting deliveries until Tuesday. I am concerned by this and don't think it's good enough, given it's a measure the government is advising.

However, I haven't seen any clear government advice on where people can get masks.

My family and I are all at home and are taking general precautionary measures - such as avoiding any outside contact, going very carefully to the supermarket to do basic shopping and making no unnecessary visits or trips.

I hope the government is being truthful - it certainly appears to be transparent in its information.

The schools are closed, as are public buildings. People have been advised to stay at home and have been instructed with basic health precautions to take.
Jorge, Mexico City, Mexico

Our health minister has just confirmed a positive case in a small town called Almansa, 50 miles from the capital of the province of Albacete, where I live.

There are other suspected cases in the same province. It is very worrying, especially as there are concerns that the numbers of people infected will grow.

The main hospital for the province is here in my town and people will be coming here for treatment.

We have received no further information yet from the authorities, beyond the case being confirmed.

We have just been told to stay calm. Meanwhile, everybody is texting each other asking what next?
Francisco Cebrian, Albacete, Spain


This is another blow to the tourism industry in Mexico, even though non of the events that is taken place is anywhere near the tourist areas of Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Puerto Vallarta, the news comes across as all of Mexico is affected! After wrong reports of drug related violence, military presence etc. in Cancun, which hurt the industry tremendously, now people think that all of Mexico is affected by a virus that is mostly present in the capital. I guess the problem is that this is a country where the capital carries the same name as the country, thus when people hear news about Mexico, albeit it refers to Mexico City, they assume it is affecting the whole country.
Rainer, Cancun


I'm a specialist doctor in respiratory diseases and intensive care at the Mexican National Institute of Health. There is a severe emergency over the swine flu here. More and more patients are being admitted to the intensive care unit. Despite the heroic efforts of all staff (doctors, nurses, specialists, etc) patients continue to inevitably die. The truth is that anti-viral treatments and vaccines are not expected to have any effect, even at high doses. It is a great fear among the staff. The infection risk is very high among the doctors and health staff.

There is a sense of chaos in the other hospitals and we do not know what to do. Staff are starting to leave and many are opting to retire or apply for holidays. The truth is that mortality is even higher than what is being reported by the authorities, at least in the hospital where I work it. It is killing three to four patients daily, and it has been going on for more than three weeks. It is a shame and there is great fear here. Increasingly younger patients aged 20 to 30 years are dying before our helpless eyes and there is great sadness among health professionals here.
Antonio Chavez, Mexico City

Friends working in hospitals say that the situation is really bad, they are talking about 19 people dead in Oaxaca, including a doctor and a nurse
Alvaro Ricardez, Oaxaca City

I think there is a real lack of information and sadly, preventative action. In the capital of my state, Oaxaca, there is a hospital closed because of a death related to the porcine influenza. In the papers they recognise only two people dead for that cause. Many friends working in hospitals or related fields say that the situation is really bad, they are talking about 19 people dead in Oaxaca, including a doctor and a nurse. They say they got shots but they were told not to talk about the real situation. Our authorities say nothing. Life goes on as usual here.

Young people are going to schools and universities. Buses and planes go and come from Mexico City as frequently as before. Even with two people dead locally, last night the local baseball stadium was full, mainly with young people. What's really happening? I know vaccines are good for nothing, and if you take care, maybe you won't die, so, why not acknowledge the real situation? I know that the economic situation is not the best, and it will worsen with panic. But panic comes from a lack of information. Many people travel for pleasure or without any real need. Stopping those unjustified trips can help a lot to ease the situation. We must do something!
Alvaro Ricardez, Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, Mexico

The truth is that it is very strange, what we are living through here. The streets are empty, we are all staying in our houses. People are only going out to the hospitals, drugstores and to buy food. The great majority have their mouths covered. Concerts, festivals, masses have all been cancelled, the football matches have all been played behind closed doors. On the television and radio, every commercial break contains information on the symptoms, saying that if you have them to go to the doctor at once. Although we have been told to go to work as normal on Monday, I am worried because I am employed at a company where there are many people and believe that it could be highly contagious. They say on the news that the cases that are most critical involve people aged 20 to 50.
Nallely T, State of Mexico

Everyone is very frightened, there are few people on the streets and we are all trying to be as safe as possible
Mariana, Mexico City

Right now the situation is quite scary. We've never been living under such circumstances and it's caught us completely off guard. We are a developing country so our health system isn't very effective, plus the fact that our city is overpopulated doesn't help much; the government is doing what they can but I don't think it's enough. So the future isn't looking too bright. Everyone is very frightened, there are few people on the streets and we are all trying to be as safe as possible. But not knowing exactly how the virus works and how it can be killed off creates a horrible uncertainty. I'm being pessimistic but that's how most people I've talked to feel.
Mariana, Mexico City

It's certainly been very quiet where I'm living in the Historic Centre of Mexico City, whereas normally the centre is almost uncomfortably packed at the weekend. Most people also seem to be wearing the face masks being handed out by the army around the city. There always seems to be a healthy mistrust of the government here, but I wouldn't say I'm sensing a great deal of paranoia or panic. It does seem as though the unprecedented actions being taken by the government to contain the virus don't match with the statistics being provided, however, so there is some doubt as to whether they're just being overly cautious or whether things are a lot worse than what they're telling the public.
Randal Sheppard, Mexico City

Right now, things are far from under control here. All the museums, zoos, and concert venues have been closed. Masses, football games, sporting activities, cultural activities, have all been cancelled. All schools will be closed until 6 May, from kindergarten to university. We don't know what to think, the truth is that the government isn't telling us the truth. This case is worst than we think, some people take this just like a joke but not me, this is serious! Als it seems clear that this illness doesn't appear to be affecting the whole country, just Mexico City, the State of Mexico and San Luis Potosi.
Carla, Mexico City

I work as a resident doctor in one of the biggest hospitals in Mexico City and sadly, the situation is far from "under control". As a doctor, I realise that the media does not report the truth. Authorities distributed vaccines among all the medical personnel with no results, because two of my partners who worked in this hospital (interns) were killed by this new virus in less than six days even though they were vaccinated as all of us were. The official number of deaths is 20, nevertheless, the true number of victims are more than 200. I understand that we must avoid to panic, but telling the truth it might be better now to prevent and avoid more deaths.
Yeny Gregorio Dávila, Mexico City

The situation in Mexico City is really not normal. There is a sense of uncertainty that borders on paranoid behaviour in some cases. At this very moment, Mexican TV is showing how military forces are giving masks to the people in the streets. Moreover the news is sending alarming messages for the audience. Really, the atmosphere in the city is unsettling, a good example: pubs and concerts are being closed or cancelled and people don't haven thorough information. In this city (and country) there is an urgent need for assertive information, no paranoid messages from the government or the Mexican media.
Patricio Barrientos and Aranzazu Nuñez, Mexico City

Massive events have been cancelled at the National Auditorium - Mexico City's largest indoor venue with capacity of 10,000 - which has been closed. Two soccer games have been cancelled at the Olympic Stadium. A sold out game with 70,000 expected attendance will be played behind closed doors. Another game at the famous Azteca Stadium that would draw an attendance of 50,000 will also be played behind closed doors.
Juan Carlos Leon Calderon, Mexico City

It's eerily quiet here in the capital. Lots of people with masks, Facebook communities exchanging gallows humour, everybody waiting to see if schools and universities will stay closed for ten days (as goes the rumour). All masks have been used up, and we are waiting for new supplies.
Dr Duncan Wood, Mexico City

We will be sick soon and, well, do the math - 400 can infect at least another two per day
Adriana, Mexico City

Yesterday in my office it was a bit surreal walking in to see all in blue masks with deep cleansing of computer equipment and surfaces going on. Let's hope it is contained and does not escalate. The local news is reporting 200 fatalities and reports of flu spreading from areas outside of Mexico City. Given the volume of daily commuter traffic on cramped busses and trains, this may not have to be too virulent to be disastrous in human terms. I wonder what controls there will be on flights in and out.
Will Shea, Mexico City

I work for the government as a head of a computer infrastructure operations department. At work we are doing several actions to try not to expose workers. We sent several home. I support the Pumas football team and the very important match with the Guadalajara team will be played behind closed doors. My family and I are going to stay home all weekend. We feel a little scared and confused with the feeling that we are not given being told the truth. Many people think the numbers of dead people is higher than we are being told.
Marcos, Mexico City

The whole city is affected, I have a very bad feeling about this. Two of my friends at work are sick, they were sick for a couple of days, they went to the hospital and they sent them back to work. The doctor told them it was just a flu until Friday when the alarm was spread, then they were allowed to go home. I work in a call centre and I'm worried because there are no windows in the building so it cannot be ventilated and around 400 people work there.

We all have talked to our supervisor but no one has done anything not even sterilise or disinfect the area. We will be sick soon and, well, do the math - 400 can infect at least another two per day. The authorities say there's nothing they can do since it's a private company and I can assure you, the company I work for is not the only one like this in the whole city. Us workers don't have much protection from our government and if we want to keep our jobs we have to go anyway.
Adriana, Mexico City

My sister got influenza like symptoms two weeks ago. She is fine now, thank god, but similar cases have been showing up since two weeks ago. I work for a bank and we were told to take our laptops because there is a high possibility to work from home. I have gone out to buy some face masks.
Ruben Farfan, Mexico City

I'm a college student in Mexico City, and I can only say that the information that the media has provided doesn't seem to be enough, we do not now how serious it is because they have failed to mention it. There have been two ways of responding to this event, the ones that have entered themselves into quarantine claiming that the government is hiding something much more serious, and those who take this as a joke saying that everyone is overreacting. To put a cherry on top all kind of crazy rumours are flying around - that they are going to quarantine Mexico City, that a school and some specific branches of offices and jobs are going to be suspended for days to come, and so on. I wish more info was available, for example how to prevent it? Have there been many deaths? Is there a threat of an epidemic?
Mari A, Mexico City

I didn't hear about the flu epidemic until Friday night at 2330. Yesterday the streets were almost empty compared to a normal Friday afternoon. The media is bombarding the same information over and over again, but the authorities haven't said anything new yet, only that they have enough vaccines for those with the flu and that we should avoid public spaces.
Paulina, Mexico City

Print Sponsor

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific