Commissioner Buncamper says health authorities to increase surveillance activities as a…

..precautionary measure

Commissioner of Public Health Affairs Maria Buncamper-Molanus, says that the Island Government is closely monitoring the situation that is rapidly developing in Mexico and the United States with respect to an outbreak of a deadly new strain of the flu virus – swine influenza A(H1N1).

Swine flu is a respiratory disease found in pigs. Human cases usually occur in those who have contact with pigs. Human-to-human transmission is rare and such cases are closely monitored.

It is safe to eat pork meat as the swine flu has not been shown to be transmissible through eating properly handled and prepared pork or other products derived from pigs.


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Buncamper added that the Island Government is following closely guidelines and recommendations coming from the World Health Organization (WHO) which over the weekend determined that the current developing events constitute a public health emergency of international concern.

The recommendation by the WHO that all countries be on alert and intensify surveillance for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia especially if they occur outside the normal flu season, and to note excess cases of severe fatal flu like illness in groups other than young children and the elderly, who are usually at high risk, will also be carried out immediately, Commissioner of Public Health Buncamper confirmed.

Additionally, Commissioner Buncamper will be meeting with the Preventive Health Department and the Department of Hygiene & Veterinary Affairs on Monday to draft a plan of action along with guidelines.

"This is a serious situation. Things continue to develop in Mexico and the United States. This virus is evolving quickly and this means that as Government we have to monitor it on a daily basis. This is a newly emerging infection.

"Local health authorities will be following up with the Federal Government Ministry of Public Health and also working closely with them to determine what other measures will be necessary in the near future," Commissioner of Public Health Affairs Maria Buncamper-Molanus told the Government Information Service (GIS) on Sunday.

The outbreak initially started in Mexico affecting more 1000 persons and killing more than 80. The number of cases on Sunday in the U.S. is 20 throughout five states with no fatalities and only one hospitalization.

Health authorities from other countries like New Zealand, France, Spain and Israel are testing some travelers who just recently returned from Mexico with a flu-like-illness to determine whether they have the disease.

Additional information will be released to the community with respect to preparedness and response activities by the Island Government and its public health directorate.