Six samples of the virus circulating in the Chateaubelair district tested to be “Influenza A H1N1 Pandemic 09”, the specific strain of virus that became a global epidemic in 2009 and was commonly referred to as “swine flu”.

Chief Medical Officer, Simone Keizer said in a press release on Tuesday that the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has confirmed that the circulating virus isolated from six of the samples tested to be Influenza A H1N1 Pandemic 09.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes the strand of the virus as “an influenza virus that had never been identified as a cause of infections in people before the current (2009) H1N1 pandemic”.

WHO, in a publication on its website, said genetic analyses of this virus have shown that it originated from animal influenza viruses and is unrelated to the human seasonal H1N1 viruses that have been in general circulation among people since 1977.

A local doctor told I-Witness News that H1N1 is the most common cause of human flu.

“When the subtype H1N1 affects pigs, it is called swine flu. So, it is safe to say that its swine flu,” the physician said of the outbreak in North Leeward.

Classes at the Troumaca Secondary School were suspended last week after the Ministry of Health, through what it described as routine surveillance, became aware that the largest number of patients seeking medical attention for an “acute illness” in the Chateaubelair health district was from the school.

The release on Tuesday, said that to date there were 48 reported cases of this “influenza- like illness”.

“All clients have been treated and discharged,” the release further said.

“The respiratory virus is treated symptomatically. Persons are, therefore, asked to seek medical care from their district medical officer if they present with sore throat, runny nose, elevated temperature or any associated symptoms. Persons are also asked to practice social distancing in the event that they become ill, that is, to refrain from attending school or work if ill,” the release further said.

“The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment continues active surveillance throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Persons are, therefore, asked to continue increased hygienic practices by covering mouth with a tissue or handkerchief if sneezing or coughing. Hand washing is imperative in reducing the risk of transmission of the virus,” the release said.

The Ministry of Health advised on Friday that classes at the Troumaca Secondary School resume last Monday, Sept. 23.