Like the United States, the Cayman Islands is experiencing
increased cases of influenza, the Public Health Department has confirmed.
In a notice alerting the public to an increase in cases of
seasonal flu Thursday morning, Medical Officer of Health Kiran Kumar reported
that during the last week of December 2012, cases of flu-like illness reported
to Public Health reached 148, while in the first week of January, there were
“Similar numbers were reported for the same period in the
2009 pandemic, with the number of cases reaching 160-170 per week,” Dr. Kumar
In the 2009 influenza season, 7,217 flu cases were reported.
Up to the end of December 2012, there had been 4,771 cases in Cayman.
The Cayman Islands’ flu season usually runs from October to
March, with its peak being experienced in December and January.
According to Dr. Kumar, up to mid-December, the 2012 season
had been very mild compared to 2011, with an average of 80-90 cases reported
per week, but the number of cases have jumped in recent weeks.
In the 2011 season, 4,680 cases were reported.
“In an average year, 40 cases are reported per week during
the summer, and about 80-90 cases per week during the flu season, with cases
rising to more than 100 per week during the months of December and January,”
Dr. Kumar said.
United States health authorities have reported that the flu
season arrived about a month earlier than usual.
In Boston, flu cases were up tenfold from last year, leading
the city’s mayor to declare a public health emergency Wednesday.
The flu strain making most people sick in the US is H3N2,
which has a reputation for causing quite severe illness, especially in the
In the US, the flu season typically starts in December,
builds to a peak in January or February and drops off by late March or early
Dr. Kumar advised people in Cayman to follow these everyday
measures can help to prevent illness:
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. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand
rub may be used.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Otherwise, germs
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
If you are sick, stay home from work or school until your
illness is over.
Anyone aged six months or older should get the flu vaccine,
Dr. Kumar said, adding that it is especially important for people at high risk
for complications from influenza, and those who live with or care for them, to
be vaccinated early each year.
High-risk people include those aged six months to four years
of age, but especially those under two years; pregnant women; people 50 years
of age and older; those of any age with weakened immune systems and those with
chronic medical conditions such as heart, kidney and lung diseases and
diabetes; and people living in nursing homes and other long-term care
Anyone who has not received a flu vaccine is urged to get a
flu shot as soon as possible, as it will still help for the rest of the season.
The vaccine is only effective for one season.
Dr Kumar emphasised that the World Health Organisation is
strongly recommending for all pregnant women be vaccinated. The flu vaccine is
being offered for free to all residents and no appointments are necessary.
Flu shots can be acquired at the following locations:
The General Practice Clinic at the Cayman Islands Hospital,
Faith Hospital in Cayman Brac and all District Health Centres, from 2pm to 4pm
Monday through Friday.
Little Cayman Clinic. Residents of Little Cayman should
contact the clinic to make arrangements.