GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an epidemiological alert on Monday to all Western Hemisphere public health agencies with respect to increased influenza activity in North America.
The most affected age group in the United States of America with regard to influenza associated hospital admissions is persons 65 and older followed by the 0-4 year age group. For Canada, the influenza-like illness rates were the highest among persons within 5-19 years of age.
PAHO recommends to Member States to ensure adequate clinical management of patients, the implementation of prevention and control measures, while enhancing the preparedness of their health services to cope with a potential flux of patients. PAHO nor the World Health Organization, does not recommend any travel restrictions including screening at points of entry.
The Collective Prevention Services (CPS) of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, recommended late last year at the start of the flu season for high risk groups to get their seasonal flu vaccination.
As part of the Minister of Public Health's "Get Checked," campaign, influenza is an acute viral infection that spreads very easily from person to person, and can affect anybody in any age group.
"Check with your physician to see whether or not you are part of the high risk group and be proactive. Get vaccinated and take measures to prevent you from getting the flu," Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour Hon. Cornelius de Weever said.
The submitted surveillance numbers to CPS determine the type of action to be undertaken as a response to any possible risk.
These numbers are submitted by the sentinel sites, which consists of a few volunteer physicians working along with CPS in monitoring the health of the local population.
For influenza like conditions the syndromes under surveillance are "fever and respiratory" and "undifferentiated fevers." For the period of December 30th 2012 to January 12th, 2013 which corresponds to the first two epidemiological weeks (EPI) in 2013, the reported number of fever and respiratory cases was 34.
In comparing 2013 to 2012, the reported number observed was 41, or 5% of all reported cases for that year. In 2011 the total number reported was 44 or 4% of all reported fever and respiratory cases.
For undifferentiated fever for the same two week period, six cases were reported for 2013. In comparison to 2012 the reported amount was two cases or <1% of all reported cases. In 2011, 28% of all cases of undifferentiated fever were reported in the first two weeks.
Influenza is a serious public health problem that causes severe illnesses and deaths for higher risk populations. Vaccination (flu shot) is the most effective way to prevent infection.
Members of the community are advised to check with their family physician on their seasonal flu vaccine and are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their family members from infection at home and especially traveling by maintaining high standards of personal hygiene.
Persons with fever in consultation with their physician should take the necessary preventive measures. Follow the advice given by your physician; take your medicine as prescribed if you forgot what the physician told you, call him/her; sneeze or cough in your arm sleeve or a tissue; and wash your hands frequently.
The primary form of influenza transmission is through interpersonal contact. Hand washing hands is the most effective way of reducing transmission.