Barbados has been given the go-ahead to conduct preliminary tests for Influenza A H1N1.

This was disclosed recently by Senior Laboratory Technologist at the Public Health Laboratory (PHL), Edmund Blades, during a meeting at the Ministry of Health, which up-dated health officials on the status of the illness.

Not only does the lab have the necessary kits to do the preliminary tests, but all the required safety precautions are in place.

While noting that it was only the screening test for Influenza A that could be done at the PHL, the senior health official said: ???Once two samples have been provided, one swab can undergo testing, while we await results from the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC). Screening tests done locally have, so far, compared favourably with CAREC results.??? However, the second swab will continue to be sent to CAREC for confirmatory testing.

CAREC, in Trinidad and Tobago, is the only laboratory for conducting confirmatory H1N1 tests in the English-speaking Caribbean.

At the same meeting, it was revealed that the Barbados Drug Service has received over 5,000 tamiflu tablets, which will be used for the treatment of persons suspected of having influenza.

This now enhances Barbados??? ability to treat persons if there is H1N1 virus on the island.

Symptoms of influenza include fever, cough, chills, sore throat, headache, muscle and joint pain, runny nose, diarrhoea and vomiting. Emergency warning symptoms that require urgent medical attention include: difficulty breathing, pain or pressure in the chest, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe vomiting or flu-like symptoms that improve and suddenly get worse.?? Persons with certain chronic medical conditions, adults over 65 years of age, children under five years old and pregnant women may be at greater risk for severe illness.??

The Ministry of Health is urging the public to continue to practise basic hygiene measures, such as proper hand washing and covering their mouth or nose with disposable tissue when coughing or sneezing.

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