200-650 annual cases in The Bahamas
One of two laboratory-confirmed Influenza patients died last week, according to Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands, who urged Bahamians to get vaccinated as health officials continue to monitor cases of the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu.
Sands did not provide details on the patient who died, nor did the give their sex or age.
“There is a challenge with the swine flu in The Bahamas and we have now had a number of cases of swine flu, including one death,” Sands advised parliamentarians on Wednesday night.
“…That is not to say that those are the only cases of H1N1. Just as when we spoke about the Vibrio parahaemolyticus, there are clinal cases and there are laboratory confirmed cases.”
Influenza or H1N1 symptoms are not unlike traditional flu symptoms, meaning the particular virus strain can “sneak up on you”, Dr. Sands said. The virus spreads from one host to the next via human interaction.
When contacted last night, Sands was unable to provide figures on clinical cases of the virus for 2018.
In 2017, there were 403 clinical cases of Influenza and four laboratory-confirmed cases, representing an increase of 69 per cent in clinical cases over the previous year.
In 2016, there were 238 clinical cases and 28 confirmed cases of the virus.
There were 204 clinical cases nine confirmed cases in 2015, 467 clinical cases and 16 confirmed cases in 2014, and 641 clinical cases and 10 confirmed cases in 2013.
According to health officials, Influenza cases range from 200 to 650 per year.
“It becomes very important for people to avail themselves of the flu vaccine,” Dr. Sands said.
“… Interestingly, some of the people who succumb to the swine flu can be younger, stronger individuals.
Those at increased risk include healthcare workers, daycare workers, teachers, children between six months and five years old, the elderly, patients with non-communicable diseases and those who are immunocompromised such as HIV-positive patients; as well as the morbidly obese (anyone with a body mass index over 40).
“It is recommended that you [get vaccinated if you] fit into one of the categories of people,” he said.
In the United States last year, between 70,000 and 80,000 people died from Influenza.
The minister said these numbers should indicate to the public that “this is not an insignificant problem”.
Additionally, Sands said there is an unfortunate degree of “mythology circulating about vaccines” and more people seeking home remedies and “superstitious, historical Bahamian views”.