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No H1N1 Reported In BVI But Health Officials Encourage Vigilance

October 3rd, 2013 | Tags: H1N1 Influenza hygiene health reports vigilance
There are no reported cases of Influenza A H1N1, which is commonly referred to as swine flu, in the British Virgin Islands. Image:
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - There are no reported cases of Influenza A H1N1, which is commonly referred to as swine flu, in the British Virgin Islands.

However, theMinistry of Health and Social Development is urging residents to engage in safe hygiene practices to help combat any potential spread of the flu virus.

The advice comes against the backdrop of six reported cases in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and four cases in Barbados, with one death occurring as a result.

Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Ronald Georges, who specialises in epidemiology, says the Ministry has increased surveillance efforts to enable early detection of potential cases and prevent the spread of the disease.

"We have not detected any increase in influenza or respiratory symptom activity in the Virgin Islands but given our proximity to countries which are experiencing cases we must remain vigilant and proactive,” Dr. Georges stated.

He noted that the surveillance work must be combined with vigilance and good hygiene practices on the part of residents.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) have identified several safe hygiene practices that can be utilised to help reduce the risk of transmission. These include covering your mouth with a handkerchief or using your elbow when coughing or sneezing; safely disposing of used tissues; washing hands with soap and water after coughing and sneezing and before and after meal preparation, eating and using the toilet and using an alcohol-based sanitizer.

Dr. Georges encourages members of the public to “practice good respiratory hygiene as recommended by CARPHA and PAHO and seek assistance from a health professional for any severe symptoms.” He also reminded health professionals to be “vigilant and complete all reporting to the Ministry of Health Surveillance Division in a timely manner to ensure that the Ministry has accurate information."

According to CARPHA, infected persons usually recover with one to two weeks. However, young children, elderly persons and those with other serious medical conditions can develop complications from the influenza infection which can then lead to pneumonia and death.

In 2009, H1N1 was identified as the most common influenza virus circulating in the region. Responding to the current resurgence of the virus, the Caribbean Public Health Agency advises improved monitoring by health ministries across the region.

The Ministry of Health and Social Development is encouraging persons who experience flu-like symptoms to immediately seek medical attention.Adequate supplies of medicine are in supply at the Peebles Hospital Pharmacy to treat patients.


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