SWINE FLU CAUTION: BVI encourages proper hygiene amid swine flu cases overseas

The original article can be found in: BVI News Online

Though declaring that there is no reported case of the deadly swine flu here in the British Virgin Islands, the Ministry of Health has issued an appeal for residents to practice safe hygiene to help combat any potential spread of the virus.

Swine flu, formally known as Influenza A H1N1, has been reported in at least two Caribbean countries.

“The advice (in the BVI) 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,” said the Ministry of Health here in the BVI.

The Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Ronald Georges, in a release from the Government Information Service, said: “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, who specialises in epidemiology, further stated that the Health Ministry has increased surveillance efforts to enable early detection of potential cases, and to prevent the spread of the virus.

He noted that the surveillance work must be combined with vigilance and good hygiene practices on the part of residents. Hygiene practices include covering the mouth with a handkerchief or using the elbow when coughing or sneezing, safely disposing of used tissues, and washing hands with soap and water.

Claiming that “adequate supplies of medicine are in supply at the Peebles Hospital Pharmacy to treat patients”, the Health Ministry also encouraged persons to seek medical attention if they experience flu-like symptoms.

Infected persons usually recover within one to two weeks, but young children, elderly persons, and those with other serious medical conditions may develop complications which can lead to pneumonia and death.

Influenza A H1N1 is caused by a virus that was first brought to the attention of the global community in 2009.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency recently reported that the H1N1 virus is the most commonly identified influenza virus circulating in the Caribbean region.

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