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No need for alarm

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Sept 30 – The Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has sought to quell fears of an outbreak of the deadly HINI influenza virus in the region, noting that the Caribbean, like other regions in the Americas, experiences seasonal influenza activity.
In a statement, CARPHA said that improved health monitoring by the ministries of health “is providing more timely and detailed information on viruses currently circulating in the region.
“This has resulted in the recent confirmation by the Caribbean Public Health Agency of the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus from samples received from St Vincent,” the statement said, adding the identification of 2009 H1N1 influenza virus from persons seen at health care facilities in St. Vincent is “as a result of the increased investment by Ministries of Health, CARPHA and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in laboratory services and surveillance”.
Over the weekend, Barbados health authorities denied there is an “outbreaks or suspicion of outbreaks” of Avian Influenza, commonly known, as Bird Flu on the island.
Senior Veterinary Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Mark Trotman, said that recent media reports had made reference to H1N1 and that the error had caused problems for the island.
 “There have been some reports in the media about (an) outbreak of influenza H1N1 in St. Vincent and an influenza-like illness in Barbados, and it has been erroneously referred to as Bird Flu, which has created a number of challenges for us in the Veterinary Services Department with respect to international trade issues and international opinion about the status of the health of the animals and the birds in Barbados,” he said.
Trotman said that one of the strongest animal surveillance programmes on the island was that of Avian Influenza and that if a case had been detected it would have been reported immediately to the World Organization for Animal Health. (CMC)

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