CPS monitoring new influenza strain after PAHO issues alert;

Travelers to China advised to observe preventive measures

Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is monitoring developments with respect to a new strain of influenza A (H7H9) that has been observed in China in order to ensure that public health is safeguarded.


Last week the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an epidemiological alert calling on Member States to maintain the capacity to detect any unusual health event, including those that may be associated with a new subtype of influenza A.

PAHO also advised states to update and implement the relevant components of multi-risk plans for preparedness and response to public health events.

Persons traveling to China are advised to remain vigilant and observe measures recommended by local Chinese health authorities. The World Health Organization (WHO) does not advise against travel to China at this point in time, as there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus.

Influenza A (H7N9) is known to affect wild birds and poultry. The cases in China are the first known cases of H7N9 infection in humans. China reported a total of 16 cases of human infections, including six deaths up to April 5 in Shanghai, Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

To date, the current cases of human infection in China appear to be sporadic and isolated.

Returning travelers from affected areas in China should look out for signs and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as fever and cough, and seek early medical attention if they are will with such symptoms.

The Minister of Public Health Hon. Cornelius De Weever ‘Get Checked’ campaign emphasizes the importance of individuals informing their doctors of their travel history, should they develop these symptoms after returning to Sint Maarten.

Travelers to China should observe the following measures: avoid direct contact with poultry, birds or their droppings, and if contact is made, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water; Cook poultry and eggs thoroughly before eating; Wash hands frequently with soap and water (e.g. before handling food or eating, after going to the toilet, or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretion after coughing or sneezing).

Also while in China avoid crowded places and contact with sick people with fever, and wear a mask when you have respiratory symptoms or are feeling unwell.