Published On: Wed, Jun 12th, 2013

PAHO issues alert due to increase influenza activity in Southern Hemisphere; Travelers urged to implement preventive measures

PAHO LOGOGREAT BAY, Sint Maarten – Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a section of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, has been alerted by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) about an increase in patient visits for influenza-like (flu) illness as well as hospitalizations associated with influenza in countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

The PAHO issued an 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, and the strict implementation of prevention and control measures in health care settings, and to reinforce communication to the public on preventative measures.

The Minister of Public Health Hon. Cornelius de Weever ‘Get Checked’ campaign emphasizes the importance of individuals taking preventive measures.  The primary form of influenza transmission is through interpersonal contact.  Hand washing is the most effective way of reducing transmission.

Persons and families planning a holiday in one of the countries in the Southern Hemisphere (South America), should take preventative measures once they arrive at their holiday destination.

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 your hands should take 40 to 60 seconds.

If clean, running water is not accessible, as is common in many parts of the world, use soap and available water.  You can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol to clean hands.

Your hands should be washed before, during, and after preparing food; before eating food; after using the toilet; after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

Flu viruses also may spread when people touch something with the flu virus on it and then tough their mouth, eyes, or nose.  Many other viruses spread these ways too.

Preventive actions entails: try to avoid close contact with sick people; cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; throw the tissue in the trash after you use it; clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

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