Cayman remains flu free say officials

| 06/05/2009

(CNS): Public health officials have said today that they have investigated a total of ten patients with respiratory infections since the WHO notification of an overseas outbreak of H1N1 flu and there are still no cases of the virus in the Cayman Islands. Medical Officer of Health Dr Kiran Kumar reiterated that investigating a case of respiratory illness does not mean health officials suspect H1N1 flu but this is a precautionary measure only.

Five of the investigated cases had travelled to areas affected by H1N1 flu, such as Texas and Toronto and both the HSA and Public Health will continue to vigilantly screen and investigate all cases of respiratory illnesses, even if H1N1 is not suspected, Dr Kumar said.

As part of Public Health’s vigorous surveillance, samples were sent to the CAREC laboratory in Trinidad as well as to the IRL-Miami laboratory to establish whether there was any influenza activity. Three samples were sent on 29 April to CAREC: The results showed no flu, meaning not even seasonal flu. Two samples were sent to Miami on 30 April: The results showed no flu, meaning not even seasonal flu. All other samples tested negative for Influenza A (with the HSA’s local testing), but these were nevertheless sent to the CAREC laboratory for final verification. Results are still outstanding for one sample sent on 1 May, two sent on 4 May, and another sample that was sent today.

Authorities said that the HSA is now able to conduct a basic test to see if a person has flu with results available in 3-4 hours. If the test is positive for Influenza A (the flu comes in two majortypes – A and B), the test will be sent to CAREC in Trinidad. At that point a person would be considered to be a suspect case, if he/she travelled to an affected area in the past seven days. If CAREC determines it is H1, the person is a probable case and the test goes to the CDC in Atlanta. The CDC puts the last piece in place – determining whether the virus is the N1 strain which is causing the current flu outbreak (Influenza A H1N1).



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