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Update: Patients with flu symptoms increases in St. Lucia

The Epidemiology Department continues to record a sharp increase in the number of patients presenting to health facilities with Flu symptoms.

This trend is unusual for this time of year as the height of the Flu season is typically around September to December each year. The increased trends in Flu mirrors that of the United States and other Caribbean territories.

Flu or influenza is caused by viruses which become airborne when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Persons become infected when they breathe in these viruses, or when the mucus membranes of the nose, eyes or mouth get in contact with viruses picked up after touching infected surfaces.

Most persons with Flu recover within a few days, after developing fever, cough, runny nose, muscle and joint pains.

However, in the very young and the elderly, pregnant women and persons with underlying medical conditions (such as Asthma, Diabetes, Sickle Cell Disease, Heart disease, HIV/AIDS, Cancer and other medical conditions), Flu can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia and in rare instances, may even lead to death.

Flu can be treated with antiviral medications such as Tamiflu, which is available at Government Health facilities. The Flu vaccine may also offer some protection from Flu viruses. Paracetamol(and notAspirin) should be used to manage fever and infected persons should drink lots of water and fresh fruit juices.

Frequent hand washing with soap and running water has great benefit in preventing Flu. Persons with Flu should cover their mouth with tissue and safely dispose immediately afterwards, or should cough into their sleeve, and should ensure that they wash or sanitize their hands after coughing. Persons who are ill with Flu should stay away from school or work and should visit their health practitioner if their condition worsens.

During this Flu season, schools, workplaces, homes and businesses should ensure that surfaces are regularly cleaned with bleach water or alcohol based wipes and sanitizers and other cleaning products. It has been shown that Flu viruses can survive on surfaces, for up to 24 hours.

For more information, please contact the Epidemiology Unit of the Department of Health at 4685325

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