Sat | Dec 10, 2016

CARPHA issues warning ahead of influenza season

Published:Wednesday | February 4, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is warning Caribbean people to practise good personal hygiene in order to reduce the risk of transmission of influenza and other respiratory viruses.

CARPHA said seasonal influenza affects many thousands of people in the region annually, and as the 2015 season approaches, it is advising that persons practise good hygiene measures, including covering their mouth with a tissue or handkerchief, or using the elbow, when sneezing or coughing, as well as safely disposing of used tissues.

CARPHA Executive Director Dr James Hospedales said the "primary form of influenza transmission is through interpersonal contact. Given elevated flu activity in the United States, combined with the high travel season to the Caribbean, it is important that persons take the necessary steps now to protect themselves and their loved ones from the flu."

CARPHA said the most effective way to prevent the disease or severe outcomes from the illness is vaccination.

"Safe and effective vaccines have been available and used for more than 60 years. Among healthy adults, influenza vaccine can prevent 70 to 90 per cent of influenza-specific illness. Among the elderly, the vaccine reduces severe illnesses and complications by up to 60 per cent and deaths by 80 per cent," CARPHA said.

It said that most deaths associated with influenza occur among people age 65 or older.