H1N1 is back

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 19, No. 37            October 1, 2009

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At press time, 36 people have been diagnosed with the H1N1 virus.

As Belize experiences the second wave of the H1N1 virus, there have been 36 confirmed cases of the global epidemic within the country. And, although San Pedro Town has not seen its first official cases, residents are taking their precautions when it comes to the flu.

    Between Monday and Tuesday, 201 San Pedro High School students were sent home after showing flu like symptoms. Ambergris Caye Elementary School (ACES) held a precautionary school closing on Monday since 25% of their students and three out of their seven teachers have been stricken with the flu. According to Renae Sersland of ACES, the precautionary closing was imperative and students and faculty who present symptoms are being asked to remain home.

    According to Director of the San Pedro PolyClinic Dr. Javier Zuniga, on Tuesday out of their close to 50 patients who visited the clinic, 38 were presenting mild or moderate flu like symptoms with no complications. He further stated that patients are being asked to stay at home for seven days while the virus goes through the body. Dr. Zuniga explained that patients are being asked to not self medicate but rather visit the PolyClinic for treatment. Tamiflu is available but it is administered in complicated flu cases. For the past three weeks, the San Pedro PolyClinic has seen over 1,000 flu cases with more patients being treated daily.

    A press release issued by the Ministry of Health states: Prevention, of course, is of vital importance. Please be reminded that these basics steps can protect your health wash your hands (with soap and water/ hand sanitizers especially after you cough or sneeze), cover your cough (with disposable tissues and disposing of tissues in waste bins/ using sleeves when tissues are not available), avoid touching your eyes and mouth. Patients are being asked to stay at home for at least seven days after symptoms begin or until the individual has been symptom- free for 24 hours. Influenza viruses can cause severe respiratory illness, therefore, the Ministry of Health informs the general public to visit the nearest health care provider immediately if any of the following symptoms are experienced: *difficulty breathing or chest pain *purple or blue discoloration of the lips *vomiting and inability to keep liquids down *signs of dehydration such as dizziness when standing *absence of urination, or in infants, a lack of tears when they cry *seizures (for example, uncontrolled convulsions) *less responsive than normal or *signs of confusion.

    The Director of Health Services would also like to inform the general public that self-medicating is NOT recommended, especially for children under the age of four years. If over the counter medications are to be used, labels should be checked to ensure that they do not contain aspirin. Use of ASPIRIN is also NOT recommended. There is no vaccine for the Influenza A H1N1 virus in Belize. TAMIFLU is available in country and it is a PRESCRIPTION DRUG that should be used only as recommended by your attending physician and it is FREE OF COST.

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