H1N1 Flu Update – Saturday, 6 June 2009
Several people have tested positive for Influenza A at Friday’s Public Health investigation at First Baptist Christian School. CAREC testing, which will classify these cases as the typical seasonal flu or the novel H1N1, will be available in a few days.
In addition, CAREC has confirmed today (Saturday, 6 June) that another returning resident has contracted the novel H1N1 flu. This case is an imported case from the US and unrelated to the first case. This patient is also recovering well on home isolation.
This newly confirmed case, and the presence of more positive screening tests for influenza A suggests that more cases of the novel H1N1 flu will be confirmed in the Cayman Islands.
“Fortunately, this flu is not much different from the typical seasonal flu and allows us to react in much the same way as we would with the seasonal flu. Our number one recommendation is: If you feel sick, stay at home,” said Health Services Authority Medical Director Dr Greg Hoeksema.
First Baptist School has been given permission to open on Monday after a one day closure to facilitate the public health investigation. “Based on the results of the investigation and following World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, we will no longer be asking schools to close,” said Dr Hoeksema.
The Public Health Department and HSA will, however, continue their surveillance of novel H1N1 to establish its prevalence and level of activity, he said.
Minister of Health, the Hon Mark Scotland, has called on employers to help out: “This is a national health issue and we ask businesses to facilitate the call for home isolation. It is a public health directive and employers MUST support employees who have to stay home when they are sick or to care for a sick child.
“This will help to minimize the spread of the flu virus and is in the best interest of the health of the nation.”
“Because the novel H1N1 flu virus has proven to be no worse than the seasonal flu we put emphasis on home isolation, social distancing and personal hygiene,” he explained. Home isolation means that people with flu-like symptoms must stay at home and limit contact with family and friends. “Don’t run errands or do your shopping – stay at home,” admonished Dr Hoeksema.
People with the flu should stay at home for at least seven days or until their symptoms have gone completely, whichever is longer.
Not everyone with flu symptoms will be treated with Tamiflu. “Most of the patients worldwide have recovered without Tamiflu,” said Dr Hoeksema. “We will follow international guidelines and use Tamiflu to treat severely ill patients and high risk patients.” These include serious chronic medical illnesses like heart disease, lung problems, or cancer. Also, pregnancy places patients at higher risk of complications from the flu and therefore would recommended for treatment with Tamiflu.
People with questions can call the HSA/Public Health hotline at 926-2812 or log onto our website at www.hsa.ky for more information.