The Caribbean, like other regions in the Americas, experiences seasonal influenza activity. Improved health monitoring by Ministries of Health is providing more timely and detailed information on viruses currently circulating in the Region. This has resulted in the recent confirmation by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) of the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus from samples received from St Vincent.
The identification of 2009 H1N1 influenza virus from persons seen at health care facilities in St. Vincent is as a result of the increased investment by Ministries of Health, CARPHA and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in laboratory services and surveillance.
In the Caribbean, the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus is the most commonly identified influenza virus circulating in the Region and this is not an unexpected finding. There have been no deaths related to this incident and all patients have recovered and been discharged from hospital. In addition, Ministries of Health in the Region are aware of the situation and are closely monitoring their health facilities.
CARPHA and PAHO would like to advise members of the public to practice respiratory hygiene measures in order to reduce the risk of transmission of influenza and other respiratory viruses. You should cover your mouth with a tissue or handkerchief, or use your elbow, if sneezing or coughing. You should safely dispose of used tissues; wash your hands with soap and water after coughing and sneezing and before and after meal preparation, eating and use of the toilets. Alternatively, you may use an alcohol based hand-sanitizer.
Further information on respiratory viruses including influenza may be found at the PAHO website: http://www.paho.org/hq/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3154&Itemid=2498