Owing to the recent reports of outbreaks with fatalities from the Influenza Virus, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency management Agency Coordinating Unit (CDEMA CU) is submitting this Information Statement to its Participating States and partners in order to give the basic information regarding the virus as pronounced by Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO), the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and the Caribbean Public Health agency (CARPHA).
In the Caribbean, the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus is the most commonly identified influenza virus circulating in the Region and according to health authorities this is not an unexpected finding.
Meanwhile, Ministries of Health in the Region are closely monitoring the situation and have put measures in place to provide information to the public for their protection and to minimise the spread of the H1N1 virus.
Within 2 weeks (25 September – 3 October) a total of 16 confirmed cases of the H1N1 Influenza Virus or Swine Flu have been reported in three (3) of the CDEMA Participating States — St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Several concerns have been raised as a result of these reports, which included one (1) fatality in Barbados. This Information Statement seeks to inform on the signs, symptoms, and recommended treatments from the medical health professionals and to encourage public information campaigns to minimise the spread of the H1N1 Influenza in the CDEMA States.
3. What is seasonal influenza (flu)?
According to the United States centre for Disease Control (CDC), seasonal influenza, commonly called “the flu,” is caused by influenza viruses which infect the respiratory tract (i.e., the nose, throat, lungs). Unlike many other viral respiratory infections, such as the common cold, the flu can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications in many people. Some people, such as older people, young children, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.