The Collective Preventive Services (CPS), a government department under the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is closely monitoring the H1N1 influenza virus, commonly known as Swine Flu, cases within the Caribbean.
There have been reports from several countries within the Caribbean about cases of H1N1 in Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, and in some cases has resulted in death.
A slight increase in fever and respiratory syndromic cases has been observed in the surveillance registry of the Ministry of Public Health with respect to the data collected through its sentinel sites.
So far for 2016, 104 fever/respiratory syndromic cases were reported, and 148 for the month of February. In comparison to 2015 during the same period, those figures were respectively 86 and 115.
The H1N1 flu virus caused a world-wide pandemic in 2009. It is now a seasonal flu virus that also circulates in pigs. Although it also circulates in pigs, you cannot get it by eating properly handled and cooked pork or pork products.
The symptoms of H1N1 are the same as the seasonal flu. The virus spreads between people in the same way that the seasonal flu viruses spread.
The best way to prevent the H1N1 flu is to consult your family physician, get the seasonal flu vaccine, and implement preventive measures. Follow other daily steps to keep yourself healthy during the flu season.
Persons of high risk for severe flu illnesses are young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart or lung disease, and persons 65 years and older.
Some everyday preventive tips to avoid getting the flu are: try to avoid close contact with sick people; while sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them; cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; throw the tissue in the trash after you use it; wash your hands often with soap and water, and if not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer/rub; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as germs spread this way; clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
For more information, you can call CPS at 542-2078, 542-3003.