Over the past several weeks Grenada has witnessed an upsurge in the number of influenza type illness especially among children. Numerous cases of adults with flu-like symptoms have also been recorded. Cases of dengue fever were reported by our reference laboratory in Trinidad with the highest number of cases occurring in July of this year. Suspicion surrounding the possibility influenza A H1N1 began to surface following reports of confirmed cases in neighbouring St. Vincent, Barbados and Trinidad.
Seasonal influenza can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death. It is characterised by symptoms such as a sudden high fever, cough (usually dry), headache, muscle and joint pain, severe malaise (feeling unwell), sore throat and runny nose.
Grenada recorded the case of H1N1 on Friday, 1 November 2013. The confirmed case was reported by the Caribbean epidemiology laboratory based in Trinidad where the sample was analysed.
Immediate contact was made with the relatives of the individual. Up until our last follow up the individual was asymptomatic — (without symptoms of flulike illness). Other members of the household are in good health and there have been no reports of unusual amounts of illness within that setting. However we will continue to closely monitor the situation.
In the meantime, Ministry of Health officials are continuing to remind the public to take every precaution to avoid the spread of the H1N1 influenza virus.
HOW TO PREVENT VIRAL SPREAD
The influenza virus spreads mainly by droplets made when people with influenza cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has the influenza virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.
ACTIONS TAKEN SINCE THE FIRST REPORT SURFACED
Surveillance and Response Committee met on several occasions since the news of the regional outbreak and decided/done the following:
- Increased surveillance at the Airport and St. George’s Port as well as Prickly Bay Marina.
- Information packages sent to media houses on a consistent basis.
- Interviews on radio and television. Weekly influenza news updates.
- Update to all medical practitioners both private and public on the current situation
- Educational materials to schools, health centres and public places prepared and distributed
- Identification of isolation rooms at private block, General Hospital and a few beds at Princess Alice Hospital
- Visits to health facilities around the country to sensitise staff on the current situation
- Meeting with Grenada Ports Authority, Airport Authority and Immigration to update/inform on situation.
- In addition we continue to aggressively monitor the regional situation and engage our partners regionally and internationally to keep abreast.
- Sensitization of all stakeholders.