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Update on (Human) Swine Influenza
Date: 29 April 2009

The current situation regarding the outbreak of swine influenza A(H1N1) is evolving rapidly. As of 27 April 2009, the United States Government has reported 40 laboratory confirmed human cases of swine influenza A(H1N1), with no deaths. Mexico has reported 26 confirmed human cases of infection with the same virus, including seven deaths. Canada has reported six cases, with no deaths, while Spain has reported one case, with no deaths.

There have been no reported cases of human swine influenza or suspected human swine influenza in any CARICOM member countries.

WHO advises no restriction of regular travel or closure of borders. It is considered prudent for people who are ill to delay international travel and for people developing symptoms following international travel to seek medical attention, in line with guidance from national authorities.

Symptoms of human swine influenza are similar to those of regular or seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Persons with swine influenza may also have runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. There is no vaccine at this time but anti viral medication can be used.

Individuals are advised to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water on a regular basis and should seek medical attention if they develop any symptoms of influenza-like illness.

Steps taken at the Ministry of Health to date include the following.

1. Enhanced surveillance for fever and respiratory (ARI) cases, including specimen taking, especially among severe or hospitalized cases.

2. Alerting health care providers of the need for increased vigilance for fever and respiratory symptoms and the need to take specimens. This includes guidance on appropriate specimens.

3. Personal protective equipment (PPE) that has been distributed to Antigua has been checked and made readily available should the need arise.

4. Acquisition of anti viral medication.

5. Review of our draft influenza pandemic plan.

6. Intersectoral meetings to include the Ministry of Health, Agriculture and Tourism as well as immigration, customs and port officials.

Please note that the Mt St John Medical Center has developed a Swine Influenza Plan in collaboration with the Ministry of Health in accordance with CDC and CAREC guidelines.

 

The Ministry of Health, Antigua and Barbuda recommendations to the public at this time are as follows.

  • Frequent hand washing with soap and water, especially after sneezing or coughing
  • Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, preferably with a tissue that is immediately disposed of following use.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth as this spreads germs
  • Avoid close contact with sick persons
  • Persons who have recently travelled to affected areas should consult a doctor immediately if they show signs of flu-like symptoms.
  • Consideration of postponement of non essential travel to affected areas.
  • There is also no risk of infection from this virus from consumption of well-cooked pork and pork products. The public is therefore advised to ensure that pork is cooked to an internal temperature of 160C.

The Ministry of Health, Antigua and Barbuda is monitoring the situation closely and will provide regular updates on the situation.

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