Health officials observe uptick in flu cases

Health officials observe uptick in flu cases
Former Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands (FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday the ministry has observed an increase in the number of reported flu cases in The Bahamas, and said health officials were carefully monitoring.

“We have seen an uptick,” Sands told Eyewitness News Online.

“Again, it is kind of early on, so the total number — at least at last report was less than 20. The exact number I am not sure. It is certainly something that we are paying attention to.

Sands noted vaccination, which is provided any public clinic without cost, is the best means for preventing illness and its complications, and vaccination before flu activity increases is ideal.

He also urged Bahamians to practice good hygiene, such as frequent washing hands, and sanitizing in the absence of running water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report dated November 2, weekly cases of influenza remained low but were increasing — 3.2 percent spike over the previous week.

“During May 19 – September 28, 2019, low levels of influenza activity were reported in the United States, with co-circulation of influenza ‘A’ and influenza ‘B’ viruses,” the report read.

“In the Southern Hemisphere seasonal influenza viruses circulated widely with influenza A (H3) predominating in many regions; however, influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 and influenza B viruses were predominant in some countries.

There were unconfirmed reports yesterday of an influx of children visiting healthcare facilities throughout New Providence with symptoms of the flu.

Sands was unable to provide a breakdown of the clinical cases, but said they include adults and children.

The reported number of flu cases range from 200 to 650 annually.

There were just over 400 clinical cases of influenza in 2017 and four confirmed cases.

This was the least number of confirmed cases of influenza since 2013.

There were 641 clinical cases and 10 confirmed cases of influenza in 2013; 467 clinical cases and 16 confirmed cases in 2014; 204 clinical cases and 9 confirmed cases in 2015; and 238 clinical cases and 28 confirmed cases in 2016.