Sun | Feb 5, 2023

Take precaution during flu season

Published:Monday | November 28, 2022 | 12:06 AM
Dr Melody Ennis
Dr Melody Ennis

The Ministry of Health and Wellness, in a communiqué, is reminding members of the public that we are in the influenza season.

Influenza, commonly referred to as the ‘flu’, is an acute viral infection that spreads easily from one individual to another through coughing, sneezing and close contact.

The virus circulates worldwide and can affect anybody in any age group. However, children, healthcare workers, the elderly with chronic illnesses, pregnant women, individuals who are institutionalised or in state care, and non-health frontline workers are at particularly high risk.

The flu can have severe symptoms in children, including diarrhoea and seizures, and should also be taken seriously by adults as it can lead to pneumonia and blood infections. More common symptoms can include fever/chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache, and runny or stuffy nose.

Influenza activity in Jamaica often begins to increase from October to November, followed by a peak between December and March, and can last as late as May.

GOOD HYGIENE

Director of Family Health Services at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr Melody Ennis, cautioned, “The flu can further complicate already-existing chronic medical conditions. We want to remind members of the public to practise good hygiene, including washing hands with soap and water; and covering the mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing, which will help to prevent the transmission of the virus”.

The flu vaccine has been made available by the ministry to members of the public free of cost. Private healthcare providers are encouraged to procure the influenza vaccine through private distributors, in order to provide for the general population. Flu vaccination is recommended annually every flu season.

The ministry advised that persons who suspect that they may have the flu to get adequate rest, avoid close contact with other individuals, and to abstain from touching the eyes, nose and mouth.