A Cayman resident who travelled to the United States earlier this month and tested positive for Type A Influenza on 17 May is now being tested for the symptoms of the H1N1 virus, more commonly known as ‘swine flu.’
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kiran Kumar cautioned the public that this case was not Cayman’s first presentation of the H1N1 virus, which has infected nearly 10,000 people and caused 79 deaths.
‘This local case of Influenza A does not mean we have a new case of H1N1,’ Mr. Kumar said Tuesday.
However, he said blood samples from the female flu patient were being sent to the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre in Trinidad to make sure she was not infected with swine flu.
Test results should be back by Friday, Mr. Kumar said.
The Health Service Authority’s Dr. Greg Hoeksema said, according to data in the United States, about one-third of patients that tested positive for ‘swine flu’ had initially presented symptoms of Type A Influenza.
However, in this particular case the woman who returned from the US on 7 May did not start getting sick until 15 May. She went to the George Town Hospital on 17 May for a check up.
Symptoms of the H1N1 virus have generally presented in patients within seven days of infection. Mr. Hoeksema also pointed out her family members had been sick prior to her return home.
‘She’s outside that timeline,’ Mr. Hoeksema said. ‘But no one knows everything about this virus yet.’
The woman is not going to work and is receiving doses of the Tamiflu medication at home, Mr. Kumar said. Her family members have been advised not to sleep in the same room as her and have been provided with facial masks.
Mr. Kumar said, since news of the H1N1 virus outbreak went public, 17 people have been tested for flu-like symptoms at the George Town Hospital. Sixteen of them have tested negative.
Mr. Kumar said Cayman continues to be concerned about the H1N1 infection here because of the sheer number of international tourists the Islands welcome each week.
‘Our goal is to identify any imported cases as early as possible to give us a chance to contain the new H1N1 flu once it reaches our shores,’ Mr. Kumar said.
Health officials continued to stress that good hygiene, proper diet and getting adequate sleep are the best defences against the virus.
As of Tuesday, the World Health Organisation received reports of 9,830 confirmed cases of influenza A-H1N1 – including 79 deaths from 40 countries.
The United States continues to implement a flu surveillance system. During the week of 3rd-9th May, it tested 12,202 samples with 1,454 (12 per cent) were positive for influenza of which 1,286 were Influenza A. Out of these a further 441 (34 per cent) tested positive for new H1N1.
Confirmed H1N1 cases in the US numbered 5,123 cases, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that actual H1N1 cases there could be around 100,000. Five people have died from the virus in the US.
In Mexico, 3,103 confirmed cases were reported with 68 deaths.
Canada has 496 cases and one death reported.