The Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Health, Seniors and Environment (ESU) would like to inform the public of an increased incidence of influenza on the Island, and to encourage persons who develop symptoms to contact their doctor for advice.
Reports received from doctors’ offices, laboratories and the King Edward VII Memorial hospital, confirm an increase in the number of individuals being seen with respiratory symptoms and cases of confirmed influenza on the island. The numbers are above what is normally expected: between February 21 and 19 March 2016, 322 cases of fever and respiratory symptoms and influenza were reported compared to the 5-year average of 248 for the same time period.
This situation reminds us that influenza and influenza-like illnesses remain a threat to the community. The ESU is closely monitoring the occurrence of these illnesses in the community and is grateful for the cooperation of all physicians, laboratories and the infection prevention team at the hospital for their heightened surveillance and timely reporting of these illnesses to the Epidemiology & Surveillance Unit.
If you, a family member or other close contact, has been in contact with a person that has been ill with flu-like symptoms and you develop a high fever, cough, muscle aches or become unwell, you are encouraged to telephone your doctor for advice. It is important to seek early medical advice and/or attention if symptoms are severe.
If you visit a healthcare provider for care, please inform the front desk staff immediately about your respiratory symptoms. You may ask or be asked to put on a mask when you arrive to minimize the risk to others in the waiting room area.
To reduce the spread of respiratory viruses and influenza, as always, we encourage you and your family to adhere to the following guidelines:
- Frequent hand washing with soap and water
- Cover coughs and sneezes with tissues or coughing into your upper sleeve or elbow.
- It is especially important to avoid school, the workplace or public areas when experiencing respiratory symptoms.
- Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at home, work and school, especially if someone is ill.
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season. All individuals are encouraged to be routinely vaccinated against influenza, and this advice is particularly important for:
- young children,
- senior citizens,
- pregnant women, and
- people with chronic heart, lung, or kidney disease or suppression of their immune system.
Influenza vaccines are available at your physician’s office or at the Department of Health, 67 Victoria Street, Hamilton, Monday to Friday from 8:30am-11:30am. Telephone (441) 278-6460 for more information.