Five more flu cases in Jamaica

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Ministry of Health’s surveillance team on the weekend discovered five more cases of influenza A (H1N1), formerly known as swine flu.

The discovery came just a week after the ministry revealed that it had successfully detected and treated its first two cases of the virus.

The ministry said the new cases were confirmed following testing done at the University of the West Indies, Mona.

The five new cases are all related to people who travelled from the United States. The first two of those cases were reported on Saturday.

“Both of those patients reside in New York in the United States and travelled to Jamaica. One of the patients was staying in St Mary and the other in Trelawny,” a release on Saturday informed.

The ministry added that one of the individuals had recovered and the other was recovering satisfactorily. The ministry said immediate contacts of the patients had been interviewed, examined and had samples taken.

No local spread

To date, the Ministry of Health’s monitoring system has not detected any local spread of the virus. However, up to last week, health officials had been conducting tests for some 362 samples, 129 from suspected cases.

Last week’s two cases were also from individuals who had travelled to New York in the US and returned to the island. There have been no deaths recorded in Jamaica from influenza A (H1N1).

The ministry is continuing to urge Jamaicans to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves against any possible influenza infection. These include frequent hand washing with soap and water, covering mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing and avoiding contact with persons with flu-like symptoms.

Approximately 126 people have died from the virus, with the Caribbean recording its first death last Friday. A pregnant teenager, in the Dominican Republic, who had tuberculosis and was also struggling with cardiovascular problems, died from the virus last week.

Barbados, Cuba, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago are among the other Caribbean countries that have reported cases. The disease has spread to 69 countries; a vast majority of the nearly 22,000 cases reported so far, however, have been mild.