The last five laboratory samples take on June 23 and sent to the lab in Holland for testing for the Influenza A (H1N1) Virus have come back negative while two new swab samples taken on June 25 from two women who recently returned from a country with laboratory confirmed cases, have been sent for laboratory analysis according to the Preventive Health Department (PHD).
The two women who reside on the island, developed flu-like symptoms six/seven days after returning to the island. They consulted with their family physician and are being treated with antiviral medication. They have also been told to remain at home.
The latest global update by the World Health Organization (WHO) as of Monday reveals 70,893 persons have been infected and 311 deaths.
The island’s public health surveillance system was placed on alert since the onset of H1N1. When the WHO raised its pandemic level to phase five a few months ago with the introduction of Influenza A (H1N1) Virus, surveillance alertness was heightened.
Public health authorities due to the heightened surveillance have the capabilities to detect and treat cases early.
Persons who are immune-compromised such as HIV patients or persons on cancer treatment and those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes or hypertension as well as pregnant women should ensure that they check with their doctor if they have flu-like symptoms.
Parents should also pay attention to the health condition of their children and to remind them to observe good personal and environmental hygiene.
The St. Maarten community has an important role to play in reducing the impact and spread of Influenza A (H1N1) Virus. Persons with a flu-like-illness should remain at home and contact their family physician immediately.
Follow the guidelines as provided by family physicians and or the Preventive Health Department. The use of medication, the need to remain at home and the need to follow the preventive measures are your contribution to minimizing the spread and impact of H1N1 in our community.
Personal basic intervention measures that can be taken at the individual level to reduce the risk of infection are: respiratory hygiene (covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing); disposing of dirty tissues promptly and carefully (bagging and binning them); avoiding non-essential travel where possible to affected countries; hand washing frequently with soap and water (reduces acquiring the virus from contact with infected surfaces and from passing it on); cleaning hard surfaces (e.g. kitchen counter tops, door handles, frequently using a normal cleaning product).
The symptoms of Influenza A (H1N1) flu virus in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with the virus.
Persons who have traveled in the preceding seven days to affected countries should seek immediate medical attention once they develop influenza-like symptoms. You are advised to stay at home and contact your family physician. This will help minimize the risk of infecting those around you, especially people who are at a higher risk of severe illness and complications from influenza.
Persons seeking additional information should contact PHD at telephone numbers: 542-3003 or 542-3553 or visit the following websites: www.cdc.gov/swineflu or www.who.int. for more information on Influenza A(H1N1) virus also referred to as swine flu.