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Health officials: Bajans beware

Dawne Parris

Health officials: Bajans beware

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Rats and mosquitoes plus some severe flu attacks are causing health authorities to put the public on alert.
Concerned about the incidence of leptospirosis and a tripling in the number of dengue fever cases, health officials disclosed yesterday there was a spike in “influenza-like illnesses” in the last few weeks and the severity of some of those cases was troubling.
The officials are now investigating two deaths associated with respiratory illnesses and awaiting test results to determine whether the potentially deadly H1N1 virus has resurfaced in Barbados.
At a media conference at the Ministry of Health’s Frank Walcott Building headquarters, Acting Minister of Health Michael Lashley said preliminary tests were carried out on samples taken from ten flu patients and sent off to the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) on Wednesday for further testing.
By next week Barbadians should know whether the strain of the flu virus that caused a “swine flu” pandemic in 2009 and at least four deaths here has reemerged.
“We are aware that the H1N1 virus has been identified in some countries in the Caribbean region; however, we are unable to say at this time if the current influenza cases are as a result of the H1N1 virus,” Lashley said during the media conference that was also attended by acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Elizabeth Ferdinand, Senior Medical Officer of Health Dr Karen Springer, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Tennyson Springer and Chief Environmental Health Officer Tyrone Applewhaite and other key officials.