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THE MINISTRY of Health is monitoring an increase in cases of Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI). To date, ten Influenza A cases have been reported and three of these required hospitalisation.
The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has confirmed that the initial five samples sent for testing were positive for the Influenza A H1N1 virus that was first recognised in April 2009. The Ministry is awaiting results from CARPHA on the remaining five samples.
Meanwhile, a shipment of the seasonal influenza vaccine containing the H1N1 virus has been received by the Ministry and the vaccine is being offered to frontline workers in the health sector and persons in high risk groups. It is also available from medical practitioners in the private sector.
The Ministry of Health has advised the public to practise general hygiene including frequent hand washing and the covering of the nose and mouth with disposable tissue when coughing or sneezing.
Persons who experience fever, cough or sore throat should stay away from school or work until they are free of fever for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever reducing medication. Medical attention should be sought if symptoms persist or worsen or if affected persons fall into high risk categories such as pregnant women, the elderly and those with chronic conditions.
According to CARPHA, 284 samples have been received from member states for influenza virus testing to date, 47 of which have tested positive. Of these 14 were typed as Influenza A H1N1.
Persons with a strong immune system will suffer only a mild illness while those with compromised immune systems should be vigilant and pay attention to preventive measures.
The Ministry of Health has assured the public that it will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as necessary. (BGIS)