Girl is fourth swine flu case

An eight-year-old girl has been confirmed as the Cayman Islands’ fourth H1N1 swine flu case.

In a release Wednesday, the Health Services Authority said the girl fell sick a few days after returning from a trip to Miami.

‘The child is recovering well at home without antiviral medications and is experiencing an uncomplicated illness like the other patients we have had locally,’ said Dr. Greg Hoeksema, the HSA’s medical director.

The girl spent one day at school after returning from the trip, but health officials say they are confident no other students were infected.

While refusing to say which school the girl attends, they said the case is not connected to the First Baptist Christian School, where two other students have previously been confirmed with the virus.

The Cayman Islands’ third case involved a George Town office worker who picked the virus up on a trip to Las Vegas.

Stay home

Health officials are no longer asking flu sufferers to report to the Cayman Islands Hospital, and are instead urging potential cases to stay in home isolation until their symptoms have completely resolved.

But those at an increased risk of developing complications from the flu should visit their doctor, officials say.

‘These include children under five, people over 65, people with serious chronic medical problems, people with immune deficiency, and women who are pregnant,’ explained Dr. Hoeksema.

He said there has already been a sharp drop in the number of people presenting at the hospital with flu symptoms this week.

‘That’s good news because it means the public health message is getting out there.’

While officials are still waiting for further tests results from the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre, Dr. Hoeksema said the change in strategy means it will not be possible to track every case of H1N1 flu in the Cayman Islands.

But officials will continue to take samples from serious cases that require hospitalisation and from some patients presenting at the hospital with flu symptoms, so they can chart the spread of the virus locally.

Dr. Hoeksema said the virus remains mild and appears no different from the typical seasonal flu, which is also currently circulating the island.

‘Our advice is to stay at home and only seek medical care with your regular physician if you are concerned about the severity of your illness.’

According to the World Health Organization’s most recent figures, almost 40,000 people in 88 countries have been infected by the H1N1 swine flu virus worldwide, including 167 deaths.

For more information and advice, residents can call the Public Health/HSA 24-hour flu hotline on 926-2812.