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There were four confirmed cases of H1N1, commonly known as “swine flu”, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in April, the Ministry of Health has said.

Neeka Anderson-Isaacs, communications officer in the Ministry of Health, said in a statement last week that all four persons are now fully recovered and public health surveillance relative to these cases is ongoing.

The H1N1 flu virus is a communicable disease that is currently endemic to SVG.

Endemic is defined as a habitual presence of a disease within a given geographic area, Anderson-Isaacs said.

It may also refer to the usual occurrence of a given disease within such an area.

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Anderson-Isaacs pointed out that as with many other viruses, the spread of H1N1 can be minimized by practicing proper hand-washing.

“The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, therefore, urges the entire population to recognize the importance of hand washing as critical to their health and wellness. Hand washing is a relatively cheap and very effective way of reducing the spread of infectious diseases which are caused by organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites such H1N1,” Anderson-Isaacs said.

About H1N1

  • Swine flu is a respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses that infect the respiratory tract of pigs and result in a barking cough, decreased appetite, nasal secretions, and listless behavior; the virus can be transmitted to humans.
  • Swine flu viruses may mutate (change) so that they are easily transmissible among humans.
  • The 2009 swine flu outbreak (pandemic) was due to infection with the H1N1 virus and was first observed in Mexico.
  • Symptoms of swine flu in humans are similar to most influenza infections: fever (100 F or greater), cough, nasal secretions, fatigue, and headache.
  • The incubation period for the disease is about one to four days.
  • Swine flu is contagious about one day before symptoms develop to about five to seven days after symptoms develop; some patients may be contagious for a longer time span.
  • The disease lasts about three to seven days with more serious infections lasting about nine to 10 days.
  • Vaccination is the best way to prevent or reduce the chances of becoming infected with influenza viruses.
  • Primary-care specialists, pediatricians, and emergency-medicine doctors usually treat the disease, but other specialists may be consulted if the flu is severe and/or complicated.
  • Two antiviral agents, zanamivir (Relenza) and oseltamivir (Tamiflu), have been reported to help prevent or reduce the effects of swine flu if taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.
  • There are various methods listed in this article to help individuals from getting the flu.
  • Home remedies are available, but patients should check with their doctors before use; over-the-counter medications may help reduce symptoms.
  • The most serious complication of the flu is pneumonia.