1st swine flu case in Cayman

The Cayman Islands Public Health Department received confirmation Thursday afternoon of Cayman’s first H1N1 flu case.

The virus has been more commonly known and referred to in the public as ‘swine flu.’

Medical Officer of Health Dr Kiran Kumar said the patient, a student at First Baptist School, is recovering well in home isolation and did not suffer severe illness. School officials are currently contacting parents and health officials will soon be meeting with them.

The patient came to Health Services Authority’s Accident and Emergency for testing on 29 May after falling sick upon returning from a trip to New York. Local testing was positive for Influenza A and subsequent test results from a lab in Trinidad, which returned Thursday, tested positive for H1N1.

“Our strategy is to identify and contain the H1N1 virus in the Cayman Islands,” Mr. Kumar explained. “This case is an imported case.’

Health Services Authority Medical Director Dr Greg Hoeksema said, although people need to take every precaution, they should not panic.

“This case has proved that our local surveillance is working and we are in full response mode,’ Mr. Hoeksema said. ‘Our main aim now is to contain this flu as much as possible.’

Mr. Hoeksema further cited US data that shows that the H1N1 flu virus has an attack rate of 10% in public and 20% at home.

“This means that for every ten people a sick person comes into contact with, one might get sick,” he said.

Health officials said they will continue to keep the public informed of any developments. It is important to remember that the best personal defence against H1N1 is good hygiene:

– Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

– Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

– If you are sick, stay home from work or school and protect others by avoiding close contact with them.

– Good health is also important — eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising.