Dr. Patrick Martin – Chief Medical Officer
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
July 15, 2009
In keeping with its policy of providing updated and timely health information, the Ministry of Health issues the following statement.
On Tuesday July 14th 2009, the Ministry of Health of St. Kitts and Nevis was notified of the Federation’s first confirmed case of Influenza A H1N1 (commonly referred to as swine flu).
This information is the result of a test done on a 26 year old female – a national with no history of recent travel. The sample was sent to Caribbean Epidemiology Center (CAREC) from the laboratory at the Joseph N. France General Hospital. The person was not admitted to hospital but was given the necessary home care advice.
As per the usual response to a disease of public health importance, the Community Health Service will provide follow-up advice and services to the case and immediate contacts. The Office of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has informed the World Health Organization (WHO) in conformity with International Health Regulations.
The general public is aware that H1N1 influenza is a pandemic meaning global spread. The Federation’s first case was inevitable since the country is an open economy, with daily international and regional air and sea transport links.
The public is also aware that the vast majority of cases worldwide have experienced mild illness with recovery within a few days without medication or hospitalization. Therefore, H1N1 is currently behaving like a regular, seasonal flu and there is absolutely no need for alarm or panic.
The Ministry of Health takes this opportunity to reiterate the health advice given to the public since late April:
1. Persons with flu-like illness i.e. fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, aches and pains, and diarrhea, must stay at home and contact the nearest community health center or their personal physician for advice.
2. Persons with severe flu-like illness i.e. difficulty breathing, weakness, and dehydration, must present to hospital for immediate medical attention.
3. To prevent the spread of influenza and common cold viruses, the message – cover your cough, cover your sneeze, and wash your hands with soap and water.
4. Good health is protected by keeping the body’s natural defenses strong. The formula is
a. Eat a balanced diet of three (3) meals per day based on fresh local fruits, vegetables and ground provisions.
b. Stay well hydrated with water or homemade beverages.
c. Exercise ““ brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, aerobics, dance, sports.
d. Rest ““ Minimum of six (6) hours for adults, eight (8) hours for young teens, and at least ten (10) hours for infants and children up to primary school age.
e. Personal hygiene and general cleanliness at all times and in all places.
f. Positive mental attitude
The Health Sector, public and private, is prepared to render advice and care to any person experiencing illness due to influenza or the other respiratory viruses that are circulating in the region. Personnel are trained to give effective advice. There is an adequate supply of medication to treat severe cases of influenza should a physician determine a need.
The vast majority of persons affected by H1N1 influenza experience mild illness and recover.
The Ministry of Heath will continue to update the public when there is a significant development.