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Flu alert issued for southern hemisphere

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Travellers urged to take preventive measures

PHILIPSBURG –The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) has alerted the Health Ministry’s Collective Prevention Services (CPS) about an increase in patient visits for influenzalike (flu) illness, as well as hospitalisations associated with influenza in countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

The PAHO epidemiological alert to member states pointed out that this time of year is the start of the influenza season in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. PAHO has advised member states to ensure the adequate clinical management of patients, the strict implementation of prevention and control measures in health care settings and to reinforce communication to the public on preventative measures.   Persons and families planning a holiday to one of the countries in the Southern Hemisphere (South America) should take preventative measures once they arrive at their holiday destination. The primary form of influenza transmission is through interpersonal contact. Hand washing is the most effective way of reducing transmission. Keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps one can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Washing one’s hands should take 40 to 60 seconds. If clean, running water is not accessible, as is common in many parts of the world, soap and available water should be used. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol to clean hands can also be used. Hands should be washed before, during and after preparing food; before eating food; after using the toilet; after blowing one’s nose, coughing or sneezing. Flu viruses also may spread when people touch something with the flu virus on it and then touch their mouth, eyes or nose. Many other viruses spread these ways too. Persons should also try to avoid close contact with sick people; cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; throwing away the tissue in the trash after they use it; clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs such as the flu. Health Minister Cornelius de Weever’s “Get Checked” campaign emphasises the importance of individuals taking preventive measures.

Bron: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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