Cayman on alert for flu

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kiran Kumar issued an alert to the public this week to observe basic flu preventative measures following international reports of H1N1 flu strain. 

About 3,000 doses of influenza vaccines are expected to arrive in the Cayman Islands in mid-October. Those vaccines protect against the H1N1 and H3N2 flu strains, which are among the influenza strains being seen worldwide. 

In the Cayman Islands, an average 85 to 90 cases of flu-like illnesses are reported per week, Dr. Kumar said.  

During August this year, flu cases were averaging about 67 per week, well below the usual rate. Then in the first week of September, this number rose to 111 cases, climbing to 169 in the third week before dropping off to 145 in the fourth week.  

“We will continue to monitor our situation,” Dr. Kumar said.  

In the months of August and September, seven respiratory samples were tested and no Influenza A or B were detected, public health officials said in a news release issued Monday.  

Although there are no positive samples thus far, it is anticipated that the flu season will see different strains like Influenza A (H1N1), Influenza A (H3N2), Influenza B, and other respiratory viruses. There is no way to know whether someone is going to get H1N1 or H3N2, Dr. Kumar said. 

The 2013-2014 Influenza vaccine includes the H1N1 and H3N2 strains.  

“We are expecting the arrival of approximately 3,000 doses during the week of Oct. 14, 2013, via the Pan American Health Organization, and we will begin to immunize at-risk persons immediately and make it available to everyone on a first-come-basis as long as supplies last,” Dr. Kumar said.  

Dr. Kumar said there are adequate supplies of Tamiflu for patients who need it to treat severe flu cases.  


Preventative steps  

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze (throw the tissue in the trash after you use it), i.e. cover, clean, contain.  

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. Germs spread that way. 

Try to avoid close contact with sick people. 

If you are sick, stay home from work or school until your illness is over.  


For more information on the prevention of flu, call the Public Health Department at 244-2621.