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Caribbean Governments Issue Swine Flu Alert

CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. April 28, 2009: Several Caribbean governments on Monday issued national warnings about swine flu as the World Health Organization said the likelihood of a pandemic from the disease has increased.

The WHO says there are 40 laboratory-confirmed cases of swine flu in the US, 26 in Mexico, six in Canada, two in the UK and one in Spain. But Mexico’s Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova said the suspected death toll from swine flu had now risen from just over 100 to 149. Of that number, 20 have been confirmed as swine flu.

In Jamaica, the Ministry of Health said it has tightened preventive measures against the threat of the virus, and is closely monitoring reports from international health organizations and from authorities in Mexico and the United States.

According to Dr. Sheila Campbell Forrester, Chief Medical Officer, measures have been implemented to ensure that the country will be able to respond effectively and in a timely manner if there are local cases of swine influenza.
In St. Kitts/Nevis, the Federation’s top Health official, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Patrick Martin, announced that while there were no Swine Flu cases reported, while in Grenada, authorities there were cautioning Grenadian students in Mexico against returning home over fears that they may have contracted the deadly the flu virus.

In New York, Caribbean American Congresswoman, Yvette D. Clarke, warned New Yorkers to be vigilant and follow `protocol` as communicated by the city’s Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control. Twenty-eight cases of the disease have been confirmed in New York alone, according to the CDC.

Swine influenza is a respiratory illness that is caused by the influenza virus. It is transmitted from infected pigs and also by human to human contact. The symptoms include fever greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, headache and body aches and fatigue. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also be experienced.

The disease has not been shown to be transmittable through eating properly handled prepared pork or other products derived from pigs. The virus is killed by cooking temperatures of 160 degrees Fahrenheit or 70 degrees Celsius, which corresponds to the general guidelines for the preparation of pork and other meat. 

People are encouraged to take the necessary precautions to prevent an onset of the influenza virus. These are frequent hand washing with soap and water, covering of the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, avoiding contact with persons with flu-like symptoms and avoiding intimate contact including hand shaking and kissing.

Anyone with flu-like symptoms is being advised to drink lots of fluids and rest until the symptoms are completely gone. They can take regular influenza medication. Aspirin must not be taken.