Influenza A (H1N1), also known as swine flu, is a highly contagious respiratory infection. It is caused by a virus and can range from asymptomatic (present without symptoms), to severe. Up to April 2019, 116 cases have been confirmed in the island.
As it is caused by an influenza virus, H1N1 manifests symptoms similar to other influenza virus-caused illnesses. Warning signs include:
– Body aches
– Sore throat
In severe cases, infected persons may also experience pneumonia and breathing difficulties. In such instances, hospitalisation is necessary.
The virus that causes H1N1 is spread through person to person transmission – that is, breathing in saliva droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. It can also be spread by physical contact – touching objects that have been touched by an infected person. Persons considered high risk include: children, the elderly, expectant mothers, persons with immunocompromised illnesses such as cancer and diabetes.
The Ministry of Health (MOH), advises that the most effective way to prevent infection is by getting the flu vaccine, which can now be obtained at health centres across the island. The Jamaican Government has instructed staff at public healthcare facilities to administer the vaccine at no cost to those who request it. At least 18,500 doses of flu vaccine have been dispatched locally since October 2018.
Persons are also advised to help prevent the spread of the virus in the following ways:
– Avoid close contact with people who manifest symptoms of H1N1
– Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, or disinfect with an alcohol-based sanitiser
– Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with dirty hands.
For more information, please contact the:
Ministry of Health
10-16 Grenada Way
Tel: 876-633-8172, 876-633-7771, 876-633-8172