Friday, July 19, 2019
A Developing Epidemic in Argentina :: Buenos Aires Journalism Influenza Health Essays
A Developing Epidemic in Argentina BUENOS AIRES, Argentina--December is one of the loveliest times of year in the southern hemisphere of South America. On a typical summer day on a warm, Sunday afternoon, residents of Buenos Aires enjoy a relaxing jaunt along the Avenida de Mayo where one can browse the numerous shops of rare antiquities or simply retire to drinking tea in front of one of the many cafes along the avenue. Families with boisterous children picnic within the many public parks and gardens and bask in the warm sun. Expecting to revel in the long days of summer, I was surprised to find that these scenes that danced in my memory, while fighting sea-sickness en route, have vanished along with the citizens of Buenos Aires. The streets of the city are quiet, day and night. This proud South American city with its traditional colonial origins and its progressive embracement of modernity has become a ghost town of fear, fear of the illness that U.S. citizens know as the Spanish Influenza. According the local authorities, the origins of Influenza was brought by ships traveling from North American ports to Buenos Aires. Currently, port authorities have been cautious with the admission of foreign vessels and have established a quarantine period prior to entry. U.S. clipper ships the Elsie and the Snowdon, along with the steamer, the Royston Grange of Edinburgh have been subject to this quarantine which not only limits their admission into port, but also places an embargo on certain perishable goods. These actions have provided dire consequences for the local economy. Because of a lack of foreign goods, many dock workers are jobless along with local merchants facing scarcities which have greatly inflated the price of certain foods. While this is a serious economic situation, authorities of Buenos Aires feel justified in their restrictions and cite current statistics related to the spread of influenza. As of last Monday, the civil registry in Buenos Aires reported that in one district, as many as 192 deaths from influenza occurred just on that day. Because of this large amount of death, the local cemetery was unable to offer proper burials to 155 of those victims. City leaders are beginning to realize that preventative methods are the best means of defense against influenza. Public address messages about personal hygiene are published in papers and broadcast on the radio.