Swine Flu death in Barbados
By MIRANDA LA ROSE Wednesday, October 2 2013
TRINIDAD and Tobago continues to be on high alert as several countries within close geographical proximity have experienced several cases of the dangerous H1N1 virus (swine flu) with a death being confirmed in neighbouring Barbados.
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan yesterday said that to date, all local suspected cases of swine flu for which tests have been carried out, have been negative. H1N1 is a strain of the Influenza A virus which causes influenza in birds and some mammals.
Yesterday in Barbados, four cases were reported and health officials in that Caribbean nation confirmed one death from the highly contagious disease. Six cases were confirmed in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).
And also yesterday, the Latin American Herald Tribune online edition reported Venezuela’s Health Minister Eugenia Sader as saying on Saturday last, that the current outbreak of H1N1 affecting Venezuela since March 17, has caused eight confirmed deaths and infected 712 people. Trinidad is 6.8 miles from the Venezuelan coast.
“The eight deaths that we have had so far this year from the H1N1 flu have been patients with chronic pathologies,” Sader said. Back home, Khan told Newsday that the Ministry of Health is following all international health regulations and port health as the country remains on the alert for anyone coming into the country suspected of being infected. Any person displaying any symptoms would be referred for testing.
“Prevention,” he said, “is proper hand cleanliness. Do not allow anyone to sneeze or cough on you.” Transmission of the virus is similar to that of the common cold. Medications needed to treat influenza are available in TT, Khan told Newsday.
Meanwhile, a statement from Barbados Health Ministry released yesterday said that of ten samples sent to the Trini-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) last week had confirmed four cases.
Barbados’ acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Elizabeth Ferdinand said Barbados has an adequate supply of Tamiflu which is recommended for persons in high risk groups. Barbados was also expecting a shipment of the seasonal influenza vaccine which contains the H1N1 virus that will be offered to frontline workers in the public sector and persons in high risk groups.
In SVG Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves assured there was no reason to panic as six cases of swine flu were confirmed. Antiviral treatment, he said, is available and additional stocks could be made available from the Pan American Health Organisation at a fast rate.