With flu season in full swing, there has been a “marked increase” in the number of influenza cases in the Cayman Islands over the last several weeks, according to Public Health Department Acting Director Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez.
Dr. Williams-Rodriguez said his department will release detailed statistics on the flu outbreak later this week, but that the number of recent flu cases definitely exceeds the 80-85 cases per week that the territory typically sees. The outbreak of flu and flu-like illnesses has also been more widespread than during seasons in recent years, he said.
So far, no deaths have been attributed to the illness here, he said.
The public health director said the increase in cases of the flu is likely due to the illness being spread from the United States, which is experiencing colder than usual weather in many areas.
Recent statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the number of states reporting widespread flu activity jumped from 23 to 36, and the proportion of samples testing positive for influenza increased from 14 percent to 22.4 percent during the week ending Dec. 23. The H3N2 virus has been responsible for about 90 percent of the flu cases studied, according to the CDC.
Dr. Williams-Rodriguez said people can protect themselves from the flu by getting vaccinated. Vaccinations are being offered for free at clinics around the island.
People can get their free flu shot at the General Practice Clinic at the Cayman Islands Hospital and all district health centers from 2-4 p.m. Monday to Friday; at Faith Hospital in Cayman Brac; and the Little Cayman Clinic. Cayman Brac residents should call 948-2243 to arrange a vaccination, and Little Cayman residents should call 948-0072.
To minimize disruptions in business and ensure that as many people as possible become inoculated, the Public Health Department stated that it also has an initiative where officers will administer onsite workplace vaccinations for companies where 20 or more employees wish to have the shot. Companies interested in the program should contact the Public Health Department at 244-2621 or 244-2889, or email [email protected]
Additionally, Dr. Williams-Rodriguez stressed that people should regularly wash their hands, and should stay home and drink plenty of fluids if they come down with the virus.