Swine flu reaches Jamaica

| 02/06/2009

(CNS): H1N1 flu virus formerly referred to as swine flu has now reached Jamaica although the Cayman Islands has yet to have any patients test positive for this strain. Government said today that so far 22 cases have been investigated with 13 having travel history to the US and Mexico. Of these cases, 21 tested negative for the H1N1 flu, and one test result is outstanding. Medical Officer of Health Dr Kiran Kumar said however that a seasonal flu is in circulation in Cayman with a patient testing positive for Influenza A (H3N2).

Dr Kumar said all precautionary measures are still geared towards detecting the presence of H1N1 in Cayman. “The Public Health Department and the Health Services Authority remain vigilant in their fight against a possible pandemic. We are aware of the two confirmed cases in Jamaica, and we remain in full surveillance mode,” he said.

Returning residents or visitors, who develop fever with flu-like symptoms within seven days of entering the Cayman Islands from the US and Mexico or any other affected area, are encouraged to report to the Accident & Emergency Unit at the Cayman Islands Hospital for assessment.

“These recommendations are prudent measures to identify the presence of Influenza A (H1N1) early, and limit its spread in the Cayman Islands,” explained Dr Kumar who added that while there are still no World Health Organization (WHO) travel restrictions to affected areas, due consideration of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus should be taken into account when making travel plans. 

“Non-essential travel to Mexico and other affected areas is not advised,” he said.

Dr Kumar also reminded people that there is no cause for concern regarding the possibility of this virus being found in local pigs, and that properly cooked pork and pork products remain safe for consumption. Influenza viruses are not known to be transmissible to people via eating processed pork or other products derived from pigs, he noted.

Cooking meat at a core temperature of 70°C/160°F will destroy any possible active virus present in raw meat products. Pork and pork products, handled in accordance with good hygienic practices, will therefore not be a source of contamination.

Government Information Services said that health officials will continue to keep the public informed of any developments and added that residents should remember that personal hygiene and maintaining good health are the best defence.

As of yesterday, 1 June 2009 the World Health Organization said 62 countries have reported a total of 17,410 confirmed Influenza A (H1N1) cases, including 115 deaths. 


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