The H1N1 flu virus has changed in terms of its threat to Barbados because a vast majority of the population has immunity.
This assurance came earlier today from Senior Medical Health Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Arthur Phillips, during a press conference at the Ministry to address the H1N1 and ZIKA viruses.
???Influenza H1N1 has essentially become a seasonal flu, as many Barbadians would have been exposed between 2009 and the present??? It???s something that occurs every year. So the numbers have become very small and in the vast majority of cases, it is a relatively mild illness,??? Dr. Phillips reassured.
He stated that the Ministry pays special attention to the virus within certain high risk groups, as more severe symptoms could develop. However, he added, ???in the scheme of things, it is a mild virus???.
???The flu season goes from the end of one year to the beginning of the next year, and each year there are outbreaks of the flu??? The Ministry of Health has mechanisms through which it monitors and reviews possible influenza cases and analyses this data on a weekly basis,??? he affirmed.
According to the Senior Medical Officer, since the major global outbreak of H1N1 in 2009, now that the virus is under control, there have been 66 cases of H1N1 in Barbados.
Dr. Phillips described the general symptoms as being fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle and joint aches, headache, fatigue and gastrointestinal symptoms. He identified the high risk groups as being older persons, younger children and individuals with chronic illnesses.
???H1N1 is spread by droplet infection; sneezes, and coughs or touching contaminated surfaces??? Prevention is essentially avoiding exposure to coughs and sneezes; minimising exposure to individuals who are ill; and practicing good hygiene… As with other flu strains, the treatment for H1N1 is supportive??? rest, fluids, anti-fever and anti-pain medication,??? he advised.
Persons who believe that they may have contracted the flu virus were encouraged to visit the nearest polyclinic for treatment.