Ministry of Health Urges Continued Vigilance Against Influenza Infection

May 26, 2011


The Ministry of Health is reminding members of the public that the region is still in the post pandemic stage of the Influenza A(H1N1) outbreak. The post pandemic phase means that the Influenza A(H1N1) virus has taken on a behaviour and intensity similar to that of regular seasonal influenza viruses. It also means that in the coming years there could be sustained community transmission and localized outbreaks of the disease. The Pan American Health Organization recently advised that there have been outbreaks of Influenza A(H1N1) in a number of countries in the Region and sporadic cases in others since 2011.

Individuals are therefore being urged to continue to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their family members from infection.

The country has recorded its second death associated with Influenza A(H1N1) since the start of the year. A female patient who was confirmed with the illness died at the University Hospital of the West Indies on Sunday, May 22, 2011. In January a male patient died at the Kingston Public Hospital. As at May 21, 2011 there have been eight (8) confirmed cases of the A(H1N1) virus among a total of 42 influenza cases for the period.

While expressing condolences to the families of the patients, Director of Emergency, Disaster Management and Special Services in the Health Ministry, Dr. Marion Bullock DuCasse says Jamaicans should continue to observe good hygiene practices which will significantly assist in reducing the spread of any influenza virus.

“A number of Influenza viruses are currently in circulation as we are still in the flu season. We therefore continue to urge persons to wash their hands regularly and properly with soap and water or use an alcohol based hand sanitiser, cover their nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing and importantly ensure that their children are taught these practices. Persons should also stay home if they are ill so as not to spread the illness to others,” she said.

For more information, persons may call the Ministry’s toll free line at 1-888-ONE LOVE (1-888-663-5683) or contact their parish health department.