Cayman’s flu pattern normal says top doctor

| 31/07/2009

(CNS): The HSA Medical Director Dr. Greg Hoeksema has confirmed that there is nothing unusual about the behaviour of the H1N1 (swine flu) virus in the Cayman Islands when compared to all other countries where the virus spread before or on a similar time line. He warned that while so far the patient who died and those who have become very ill all had existing medical conditions, it is likely that there will be cases of perfectly healthy people becoming severely ill or even dying as a result of contracting the flu because of evidence from other countries.

“It is important we recognise how this virus has behaved elsewhere and understand that its impact in Cayman will be the same,” Dr Hoeksema he said. “As with other countries we have seen the illness impact range from making some  people mildly unwell for a couple of days through to those who have been quite sick at home for over week, some who have been hospitalised and become critically sick to one death.”

He explained that no one can predict what this virus is going to do but we can base expectations on what has happened so far in other jurisdictions and there have been a few cases of people who are very healthy becoming very sick and even dying. He said that he and Dr Kiran Kumar and other officials were monitoring the progress and development of the virus all over the world, as well as here in Cayman, everyday to see what patterns were emerging and how to best deal with the changes as they occur.

Dr Hoeksema confirmed that doctors and health care works here, just like in the rest of the world, have also come down with the virus but all have recovered well. He also noted that we have only one patient who is critically ill at present who has another medical condition. Dr Hoeksema said there are one or two flu patients in the hospital at the moment being treated in the critical care unit but they are not in a life threatening condition. The hospital is utilising the unit because of labour and equipment issues but also because the CCU rooms provide isolation.

The top doctor noted that at the moment the focus is on monitoring the pattern of the virus, issues of mutation as it goes around the world and exactly how the virus will behave as we move into the fall flu season. He said that so far this particular flu virus was behaving differently to other flu epidemics in that where we would normally expect the severity and persistence of the virus to die down in certain phases of its life cycle swine flu virus seems particularly persistent.

“We don’t know whether the virus will become more virulent or whether it may simple infect more and more people because it is persistent,” he added noting that a milder virus may be more enduring in its life cycle than a more severe flu virus.

 He said however, Cayman must be prepared for the possibility of many more people becoming ill later in the year and that local businesses need to plan for the fact that their staff may be absent from work for projected periods. “We are having a meeting with the chamber of commerce on 13 August so the business community can discuss plans and preparations and get the information they need from us,” Dr Hoeksema added.   

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Is death from flu ‘nothing unusual"

    Why is it that Doctors and Ministers seem the think the public are stupid and can feed us this garbage?

  2. Anonymous says:

    So it has gone from Minister Scotland saying it wasn’t serious issue in Cayman to one death, a few critically ill patients and Dr. Hoeksema, because of the Minister’s careless statements, having to play down the seriousness of the situation but at the same time set the stage to gradually step up the alert level.

    This is dangerous behavior on the part of Minister Scotland and the Dr. They need to level with the Cayman public and give this issue the prominence it requires……this is not a matter to joke with.

    I guess this is what happens when there are inexperienced hands at the helm !!!

    We better pray hard !!!