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Flu confirmation (H1N1 Influenza)

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The Department of Health and Wellness has received confirmation of the association of H1N1 Influenza, in 1 of the recent, respiratory-related deaths among males. This confirmation was received from the Laboratory at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad. H1N1 influenza has also been confirmed in other persons who only developed mild flu-like illness and who recovered completely with treatment.

H1N1 influenza (also referred to as Swine Flu) is caused by a virus.  This virus was the cause of the influenza pandemic in 2009. Since then, it has become one of many respiratory viruses which circulate each year during the flu season. Therefore, its confirmation is not unusual. However, H1N1 Influenza remains a concern, due to the possible development of severe respiratory illness in high-risk groups such as:  the very young and old, persons with underlying medical conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes, heart disease, kidney, liver and lung disease, cancers and other conditions. Pregnant women who contract the disease are also at higher risk for the development of severe complications.

Respiratory viruses such as H1N1 are spread mainly by respiratory droplets when infected persons cough or sneeze.  Covering one’s cough and frequent hand washing are ways of minimizing the spread of the Flu virus. The flu virus can also survive on contaminated surfaces for up to twenty-four (24) hours, so frequent hand washing is advised for everyone, as it can also protect persons from contracting the disease.

Persons affected from respiratory viruses may suffer from sore throat, fever, cough, body aches and pains. Most persons who contract H1N1 influenza may get only mild illness.  However, more severe illness leading to shortness of breath, generalized weakness, vomiting and or diarrhoea may occur and persons are advised to seek medical care promptly if symptoms worsen.

Persons with flu symptoms should avoid crowded places in an effort to decrease the transmission to others. The flu vaccine, which is available free of charge at all Wellness centres can also assist in flu prevention. The vaccine is recommended, in particular for persons in the high-risk groups and for front line health care and other workers.

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