Saint Lucia’s Ministry of Health has bolstered its surveillance to ensure that a deadly influenza outbreak in the United States does not spread here, the ministry’s Communications Unit has reported.
According to the unit, Acting National Epidemiologist, Doctor Gemma Cherry, has reassured Saint Lucians that the country is not experiencing such a unique influenza.
“In our case it is not the same- we are not having such an active or such a severe flu season at present. Like I said, before lots of persons would have flu or influenza, but you expect lots of persons to have mild influenza cases so at present we’re not having lots of hospitalisation as a result of persons developing complications as a result of the flu virus,” Cherry explained.
She disclosed that the most common signs and symptoms of the flu include: fever, coughing, running nose, muscle aches, headache and sore throat.
The health official has encouraged people most at risk to get vaccinated.
“In terms of the flu, the flu shot is actually your first and is what we consider the most important step in preventing someone from actually getting the flu virus. The flu vaccine is actually available at all wellness centers and it is free. As with any other disease, there are risk groups. So persons most at risk of having or acquiring the flu virus would be your pregnant women, persons who have chronic diseases – for example person who are asthmatic or diabetic and persons with heart disease. These persons we encourage to go out there and get vaccinated. Children also are a risk group – children less than 5 but with special emphasis on those less than 2,” Cherry stated.
She added that people with the flu should remain home and refrain from attending public events.
She also advised Individuals to practice proper hand hygiene and visit the nearest Wellness Centre if there is any level of uncertainty about what illness they may have contracted.
The local health official spoke against the backdrop of thousands of laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalisations in the United States since October 2017 when the flu season began.
More than 50 pediatric deaths have been reported in the US for the 2017-2018 influenza season.