Flu like illness being investigated at a Saint Lucia Secondary School

Castries, Saint Lucia, September 15, 2009 (NEMO) - In keeping with the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, the Ministry of Health in St. Lucia is removing the focus from reporting individual cases of confirmed H1N1 infections, to reporting on clusters of cases of flu like illness. Persons are reminded that H1N1 influenza affects primarily young persons. Most persons who acquire the disease have only mild flu- like symptoms, and recover at home within one week, but some may develop more severe illness.
Some H1N1 influenza patients experience a sudden and very rapid deterioration in their clinical condition, usually on the 5th or 6th day, after they begin showing signs of flu-like illness.

The Ministries of Health and Education are presently involved in the investigation of an outbreak of flu like illness at a Secondary School in the north. A number of students from one form of that school reported to school with flu like symptoms. All students involved have since been treated and advised to remain home for at least one week. We have no confirmation of H1N1 influenza up to this point in time, but the pattern of this outbreak fits the patterns which we have noted in previous H1N1 Influenza outbreaks.

Parents are asked to remain alert for any sign of flu-like illness in their child. The child should be taken to see a doctor if there is any sign, such as sore throat, runny nose, cough, fever, headache, joint and body pains, belly pain, vomiting and or diarrhoea. Free doctors clinics are available at all health centers. Please, do not send the child to school if the child has any sign of flu-like illness.

Recognizing that schools provide an ideal setting for the spread of flu like viruses, the Ministry of Education has taken a number of steps to increase sensitization of students, staff and parents to ways of limiting the spread of flu-like viruses. We continue to encourage frequent handwashing, covering of coughs and sneezes and urge parents to keep ill children away from school for at least one week.

All of us need to remain vigilant in our efforts to decrease the spread and impact of H1N1 Influenza.
This is what we should be doing now to protect ourselves from H1N1 Influenza.
1. Cover your cough. Cough into tissue and place used tissue in a covered bin. If you have no tissue or napkin, cover your mouth with your sleeve.
2. Wash your hands frequently. Hand washing helps prevent persons from acquiring the disease and prevents spread of infection.
3. Visit a health practitioner if you have flu like symptoms.
4. If you are ill with flu, do not go to school
5. If you are ill with flu, do not go to work
6. If you are ill with flu, do not go to mass crowd gatherings
7. If you are ill with flu, remain at least 3 feet away from other persons and after seeking medical attention, remain at home for at least one week

For more information, please contact the:
Ministry of Health at: 758-468-5309, 758-468-5317, 758-468-5318, 758-468-5300
Ministry of Education: 758-468-5261/5259/3257

CDEMA Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. Resilience Way, Lower Estate, St. Michael Tel: (246) 434-4880, Fax: (246) 271-3660
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