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Published 12th June 2009, 3:59pm

Public Health officials have confirmed human-to-human transmission of the novel H1N1 virus within the Cayman Islands.  As a result, we are now shifting our public health strategy to minimize the spread of the virus within the community as much as possible.  We are advising the public that anyone with a fever and a flu-like illness should stay in home isolation until your symptoms have completely resolved. There is no longer a need to report to the hospital or seek medical care unless you are concerned about the severity of your illness.

As the illness associated with the novel H1N1 flu virus is mild and appears no different from the typical seasonal flu, Health Officials advise that only persons who are seriously ill need to seek medical care. In addition, persons who are at increased risk of developing complications of the flu should also visit their doctor. These patients include children under 5 years old, persons over 65, persons with serious chronic medical problems, persons with immune deficiency, and women who are pregnant.  All of these groups should be considered for treatment with the antiviral drug, Tamiflu.

A flu hotline has been set up to help patients who would like additional advice. Your questions can be answered by calling 926-2812.

"Not everyone that has fever and a flu-like illness needs to seek medical care," said Dr. Greg Hoeksema, Medical Director of the Health Services Authority.

"Otherwise healthy persons with uncomplicated illness should stay home and don't need to go to the emergency room."

Home isolation and self care is best for the majority of people infected with all flu viruses, including novel H1N1. Dr. Hoeksema recommends that persons who have a fever and flu-like symptoms (headache, chills, cough, chest pain, sore throat, muscle aches, diarrhea, vomiting) should do the following:

  • Remain at home until all symptoms have resolved (typically 4-10 days)
  • Take over the counter medication as needed to relieve symptoms, but do not give children under 18 years of age any products containing aspirin.
  • Drink lots of fluids (water and other non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages) to avoid becoming dehydrated.
  • If you have diarrhea or vomiting, it's a good idea to rest, eat only small amounts of food at a time, and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

The majority of patients worldwide have recovered from H1N1 flu following these simple recommendations.

Here are some tips to keep from spreading your germs to others, and to keep from catching someone else’s germs.  Remember to Catch ‘em, Trash ‘em, and Wash ‘em.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose.
  • Throw out used tissues in the trash as soon as you can.
  • Always wash your hands after sneezing, blowing your nose, or coughing, or after touching used tissues or handkerchiefs. Wash hands often if you are sick.
  • Use warm water and soap or alcohol-based hand sanitizers to wash your hands.

Plan Ahead

Dr Anna Matthews, Acting Medical Officer of Health, is also encouraging residents to plan ahead and think about what they would need to have in their house in case someone were to become infected with influenza and need to stay home:Have enough fluids (e.g. water, juice, soup) available to last for at least 10 days.

  • Have enough basic household items to last for at least 10 days.
  • Think of someone you could call upon for help if you became very ill and discuss this possibility with him or her.