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The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment through its routine and ongoing monitoring and surveillance activities has picked up one laboratory confirmed case of Influenza A H1N1 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the year 2019. The patient has made a full recovery without complications.

Influenza A H1N1 (commonly called “swine flu”) is caused by a respiratory virus. Since 2009, Influenza A H1N1joined the other respiratory viruses which are common in the region during the flu season. Influenza or “Flu” has a sudden onset, typically with the following symptoms:

• Fever
• Cough
• Sore Throat
• Runny or Stuffy nose
• Muscle or Body Aches
• Headaches
• Fatigue (tiredness)
• Vomiting and Diarrhea (more common in children)

Most people who become infected with influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people can develop complications some of which may be life-threatening. The Ministry therefore seeks to remind members of the public to be proactive and take the necessary precautions to reduce the risk of transmission of influenza and other respiratory viruses.

How to Prevent Influenza

Influenza is mainly spread when someone infected with the influenza virus sneezes, coughs or talks and releases virus particles into the air. An uninfected person may then either inhale the virus particles or touch surfaces contaminated with the influenza virus then touch their eyes, nose or mouth. Therefore the following actions reduce the spread of influenza and other viral infections:

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Frequently wash your hands with soap and running water especially after coughing, sneezing, before preparing food or eating.
• Alcohol-based hand sanitisers which contain at least 60% alcohol may also be used to clean your hands
• Use household bleach to disinfect shared surfaces and objects such as door knobs and telephones that may have become contaminated with the influenza virus.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough and dispose of the tissue in the garbage immediately after it has been used. Cough or sneeze into your elbow if you do not have a tissue.
Persons more likely to develop complications or high risk groups include:

• Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
• Children younger than five-years
• People older than 65 years
• People with long term health conditions such as asthma, heart and lung diseases and diabetes
• People with increased risk of exposure to influenza, such as healthcare workers

Infected persons can spread the virus to others from one day before the symptoms start to seven days after getting sick. If you are ill, stay at home from work and school, especially if you work in healthcare, geriatric care or childcare. If you have worsening symptoms of influenza and are in a high risk group, or are worried about your illness, please contact your nearest health care facility or physician.