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H1N1 Influenza: Pork ban lifted

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Contact: Rose Marie Harris


Thursday, August 06, 2009 –  H1N1 Influenza has spread to over 159 countries and more than 1000 deaths have occurred worldwide. In the initial stages of the H1N1 pandemic, the uncertainty regarding the disease and its impact on both human and animal health resulted in an immediate suspension of importation of all fresh and frozen pork, live pigs, and semen of swine from the USA.


Since then, scientific evidence has indicated that the H1N1 virus has been isolated only in the respiratory tract of affected animals and has never been isolated in meat. As a result, the temporary suspension of fresh and frozen pork from the USA has been lifted as of the July 8th,  2009.  


Evidence stresses the fact that the H1N1 virus cannot be transmitted through the consumption of properly cooked pork.


Consultations are continuing with officials from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other Agricultural/ Animal Health Organizations on the evolution of the disease.


Persons are asked to remain vigilant in their efforts aimed at decreasing the spread and impact of H1N1 influenza. In addition to the high risk documented in pregnant women, persons with severe or fatal illness as well as underlying medical conditions, most notably chronic lung disease (including asthma), cardiovascular disease, and diabetes have been included on the high risk list.  


The Caribbean now has 7 confirmed deaths due to H1N1 Influenza: 2 in Jamaica, 3 in the Dominican Republic, 1 in the Cayman Islands, and 1 in St. Kitts.


Saint Lucia now has a total of 6 confirmed cases of H1N1 Influenza; 5 of those individuals have a history of travel to the United Kingdom or the United States. So far, the age range of confirmed cases is from 5 months to 32 years. All other persons tested so far have been negative for H1N1 Influenza.


Worldwide, the disease seems to be infecting younger persons (less than 60 years) at a much higher rate. The trend noted in Saint Lucia thus far, is in keeping with worldwide trends.


The disease is being spread from person to person in the same way that the “ordinary flu” or “seasonal influenza” is spread. Persons can become infected when they inhale or ‘breathe in’ droplets from infected persons. Persons can also become infected after touching objects (such as a door knob) that an infected person has just touched). This is why hand washing is so important.


Frequent hand washing has been shown to be one of the most simple and effective ways of preventing persons from getting the disease. Hands should be washed often with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used when there is no access to soap and clean water.

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