Local flu stats continue to climb as virus spreads

| 16/07/2009

(CNS): Health authority officials say they are not surprised by the number of H1N1 cases in the Cayman Islands following confirmation of another five cases of the novel H1N1 virus (Swine flu). There have now been 43 cases, which experts say is in line with World Health Organization (WHO) and Centre for Disease Control (CDC) data that shows about 6% of populations are being affected by the virus in other parts of the world, and so far only one patient in Cayman has required hospital treatment.

“We expect to see many more cases over the next few months. We have recently met with our regional Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) representative Dr Ernest Pate to ensure that the strategies in place fit the current status of the pandemic,” said Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr Anna Matthews. “We are constantly reviewing our response, and will continue to follow international guidelines.”

She noted that, in line with the WHO and PAHO guidelines, the Health Services Authority is still recommending that anyone with flu-like symptoms remain in home isolation and limit social contact to contain the virus as best as possible. Dr Matthews added that to date most H1N1 patients in Cayman have been experiencing a mild illness and recovered at home without antiviral medications, but she confirmed that one patient with an underlying medical condition had experienced severe symptoms and was hospitalized as a precaution. This patient has since recovered and is doing well at home. 

“This reinforces that the current pandemic H1N1 flu virus is no more concerning than the other three influenza viruses that continue to circulate in the Cayman Islands. If you are in general good health you do not necessarily need the care of a physician and can treat your symptoms with over-the-counter medications. However, if you have severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chest pain or wheezing, you should seek medical attention,” Dr Matthews advised.  “Also, those with chronic illnesses or other underlying medical conditions, the immuno-suppressed, persons over the age of 65, pregnant women and children under 5 years of age should consult a doctor.”

Officials also asked people to think twice before asking doctors to prescribe Tamiflu as it is the only family of drugs that is effective in treating the H1N1 flu virus. Using it inappropriately is irresponsible as it increases the chance of the H1N1 flu virusbecoming resistant to the drug. It may also cause some serious side effects and should only be prescribed in severe cases and to persons who fall into the high risk categories.  Health experts also warned that Tamiflu is not effective in treating the other seasonal flu viruses in circulation, and will therefore not help if you are ill with the seasonal flu.

For more information, please call the Public Health Department at 244-2621/ 2648/ 2632 or the Flu Hotline at 926-2812.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is very scary,thank GOD  this flu is not as dangerous as first thought,in 1918 Cayman was cut off from the rest of the world but would certainly not escape a deadly flu pandemic in today’s world.This is certainly a warning and Caymanians must now be prepared for what’s to come in the future, GOD help us all…..

  2. Anonymous says:

    Has the government put in an order for the vaccine?  I note that both the UK and Australia have ordered enough for 50% of the population.

  3. anoin says:

    I believe you meant to say less than 0.01%

    Nope 43 of 49000 is 0.088%, so less than 0.1%, have you been working out my bank interest rate?

    I see the UK has had 12 deaths in 4 days from the Swine flu

  4. Lordy, lordy says:

    "Burn all the expats, stop all the tourists from landing, and make everyone attend church six times a day to pray is the only way to make Cayman safe."

    Where are all the loonies that were saying things like that a few weeks ago?

  5. Dr Pepper says:

    Given that the UK is estimating 65,000 deaths from swine flu this winter, but preparing for 750,000, I think there is real need for the Government to detail its contigency plans now.  Mr. Scotland’s minimizations and platitudes are worrying.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I believe you meant to say less than 0.01%

  7. Dr Feelgood says:

     The point is that our number of cases is notexcessive…

  8. Szocske says:

    Probably the same experts claiming oseltamivir (marketed as Tamiflu) is ineffective against seasonal flu. No reason to abuse it, even though resistent strains do not seem to be resistant to zanamivir.

    But the part where most people do not need antiviral medication against flu (any flu) is correct and should be heeded well.

  9. Anonymous says:

    "there have now been 43 cases, which experts say is in line with WHO and CDC data that shows about 6% of populations are being affected by the virus in other parts of the world"


    Cayman’s population is 49,000 , so 6% of caymans population is 2,940, not 43, infact 43 cases makes up clearly less that 0.1%.

    Who are these experts?