MPH Panama Practicum 2013: Days 1-4 Vector Group

Divina Palomares
July 10, 2013

Hola y Bienvenidos!
Panama is AMAZING!
After getting settled in on our first day, our second day began with very informative presentations and an unexpected thunderstorm. After hearing the history of Panama we were taken on tour to see first hand historic and present Panama City. The photo below is one taken of Panama City from the viewpoint of The Second City of Panama. While touring this area we were drenched by the storm that rolled up. Positively, majority got to purchase a Panamanian umbrella–> souvenir shopping!
Later that day we got to visit the Panama Canal and experience the process of incoming and outgoing ships. We also learned that the Canal traffic brings in approximately one billion a day. Here they have a small museum showcasing the history and the impacts that the canal has had on Panama and its economy. This was a great experience and very informative. It was nice to hear the information as I was completely unaware that the canal was such a crucial aspect of their economy. 
Today was by far the BEST DAY EVER!!!!
It was our first day out in the field and we had an amazing experience. Initially we were a bit bummed out because in the morning is was raining and we were previously told that on rainy days were would not be able to go out in the field. Little to our surprise the leader of the vector group said that with or without rain we would go! The first place we visited was the IDAAN, where the water sterilization takes place. Here we were informed that rural and urban areas get two different kinds of water! Mind blowing! The photo below is of the water plantation and illustrates the second of three phases of sterilization. 
Being a dog lover, this was a great experience! We got to visit the Centro Integral de Caninos, where various breeds of canines are trained in rescue, bomb searching, guard dogs, therapy dogs, and obedience. The owner demonstrated a Labrador (bomb sniffer) and it was remarkable! 
Last but NOT least, and by far SUPER amazing was when the vector leader found live larvae!!! Around the corner from where the aqueduct we visited, he found about 10 various larvae. Of the ones collected, the larvae we saw could ultimately transmit Dengue Fever and Leishmaniasis. The photo below illustrates the various larvae collected…no, don’t worry, this was not a souvenir…it was taken to the vector office for investigation. This was by far the cherry on top of the day. All we could say at the end of the experience was, “If this is what every day will look like, then, we want some more!”

About the MPH Panama Practicum

A group of University of Southern California graduate students are researching public health in Panama City, Panama, for a two-week international practicum, organized by the USC Master of Public Health (MPH) program. This post was excerpted from View all posts in this series »