Monday, August 24, 2009 - For the first time in 44 years, students will be returning to school after summer vacation, amidst a global influenza pandemic.
H1N1 influenza affects primarily younger persons. Most persons who acquire the disease have only mild flu- like symptoms, and recover at home within one week.
Some individuals, especially those with underlying medical conditions such as, asthma, sickle cell disease, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, HIV or any other disease which weakens the body's immune system, may develop more severe illness requiring hospitalization.
It should be noted however that in a release dated August 21, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that the presence of underlying medical conditions will not reliably predict all, or even most cases of severe illness. Worldwide, around 40% of severe cases are now occurring in previously healthy children and adults, usually under the age of 50 years. Some of these patients experience a sudden and very rapid deterioration in their clinical condition, usually on the 5th or 6th day, after they begin showing signs of flu-like illness.
Parents are asked to remain alert for any sign of flu-like illness in their child. The child should be taken to see a doctor if there is any sign, such as sore throat, runny nose, cough, fever, headache, joint and body pains, belly pain, vomiting and or diarrhoea. Do not send the child to school if the child has any sign of flu-like illness.
To date, Saint Lucia has recorded no deaths due to H1N1 influenza. Worldwide, the death toll for H1N1 Influenza now stands at 1,896 and this number is expected to increase.
Recognizing that schools provide an ideal setting for the spread of flu like viruses, the Ministry of Education has to date, taken a number of steps to prevent or reduce the impact of H1N1 influenza.
To date, H1N1 Influenza has been confirmed in 12 persons. All have recovered completely and half of those diagnosed and treated, have since returned to their country of residence. The virus has been confirmed in approximately half of the 8 health regions and there is evidence of community transmission. Consequently, in preparation for the reopening of school, the Ministry of Education is engaging in the following:
All of us need to remain vigilant in our efforts to decrease the spread and impact of H1N1 Influenza.
This is what we should be doing now to protect ourselves from H1N1 Influenza.
For more information, please contact the:
Ministry of Health at: (758) 468-5309, (758) 468-5317, (758) 468-5318, (758) 468-5300
The Ministry of Education Influenza Plan is part of the National Influenza Plan and copies are available at www.tiny.cc/flu
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