Be alert! -- Health ministry urges vigilance as influenza cases continue
Chief Medical Officer Dr Winston De La Haye is urging persons, especially those in the high-risk group for severe symptoms, to take steps to prevent infection as the ministry continues to record cases of influenza.
Persons in the high-risk group include; children under five years old, pregnant women, the elderly, persons with non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, asthma, and those with a compromised immune system.
There have been 10 confirmed cases of influenza A (H1N1) since the start of the year, including two associated deaths, the latest being a patient with another life-threatening illness as was the previous case.
Dr De La Haye said "persons in the high-risk group are at a greater risk of being severely affected if they get the flu virus. These persons, therefore, need to be extra cautious by observing proper hygienic practices and taking other measures to prevent infection."
He says everyone should take the following precautions: (1) clean your hands frequently with soap and water; (2) cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing; (3) control the spread of germ - avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with dirty hands; (4) avoid contact with persons with flu-like symptoms; And (5) avoid intimate contact including hand shaking and kissing especially with persons who have flu-like symptoms.
Influenza is a viral respiratory illness and its symptoms include fever, sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, headache and body aches and fatigue. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea may also be experienced. Influenza viruses are mainly spread from person to person through droplets produced while coughing or sneezing, or by persons touching surfaces contaminated with droplets.
Individuals who wish to obtain more information may call the Ministry of Health or the nearest health centre. Persons may also visit its ministry's website at moh.gov.jm.