Ministry Of Health Dealing With Viruses In Local Circulation

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Added to the current increase in the number of dengue cases, local health officials are also responding to a number of persons with the seasonal cold or flu, allergies or Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

According to Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John, the respiratory illness infects the lungs and breathing passages, but most healthy persons recover from RSV infection in one to two weeks. The virus, which caused an outbreak at the Geriatric Hospital earlier this year, is transmitted by droplets, spread through coughing or sneezing.??

"RSV for most age groups, other than the very old and very young, is usually a very mild illness … There was a resurgence but that is more or less under control.?? At the St. Philip District Hospital we have also had positive RSV tests from quite a few of the patients there.?? That is well under control," the CMO said.??

Dr. St. John emphasised that she suspected that some persons with the seasonal flu who were experiencing respiratory symptoms and significant muscle ache, mistakenly thought they had dengue.?? She, however, noted that one never saw respiratory symptoms with dengue.

"You might see nausea, and vomiting but never respiratory symptoms with dengue. The seasonal flu is giving you significant muscle pain which usually resolves much more quickly because the dengue muscle ache continues for a longer period of time and you may be weak for weeks," the CMO stressed.??

Hospitalisation issues, she stated, had been mainly linked to the dengue virus.?? Dr. St. John, therefore, reminded persons to be vigilant, as Barbados was now home to all four serotypes of the virus.

"We can’t have people thinking that this thing will just go away if they ignore it.?? The critical thing is to stop the breeding.?? Fogging is directed where we have reports of persons who have had dengue and we are trying to kill the adult mosquito so it does not bite a person and then goes on to someone who has not been infected," she indicated.

The CMO explained that dengue was transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. In the Western Hemisphere, the aedes aegypti mosquito is the most common transmitter or vector of dengue viruses.??

In terms of RSV, which can be easily spread by touching infected people or surfaces, frequent hand washing is key in preventing its transmission.?? lbayley@barbados.gov.bb

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