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CPS: Increase in influenza cases. Calls on community to increase preventative measures like handwashing

The flu season is well underway, and the Collective Prevention Service (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), has observed a consistent increase in the number of influenza cases over the past four weeks, with fever and respiratory symptoms being most reported. 

CPSs flu-prevention guidance is to get vaccinated which offers effective protection against influenza; adhere to proper handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and cough/sneeze etiquettes (cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing).

Influenza spreads from an infected person to others through the air by droplets (secretion) as a result of coughing and/or sneezing, or by direct contact with the virus on hard surfaces or people’s hands that have the viruses on them then touching the mouth, nose or eyes.

Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection.  Unlike the common cold, influenza can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications such as pneumonia and bronchitis, which often require hospitalization.

The flu poses a risk or can be especially dangerous for certain groups such as the elderly (65-years and over), pregnant women, very young children (aged six months and over) as well as for people with underlying medical conditions known as immunocompromised (such as severe asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity, diabetics). 

The flu usually differs from a cold as symptoms develop suddenly and can lead to complications such as chest infections and pneumonia – particularly among the elderly and young children.

Flu symptoms tend to develop abruptly one to three days after infection, and can include: tiredness, high fever, chills, headache, coughing, sneezing, runny noses, poor appetite, and muscle aches.

Prevent the spread of influenza and reduce the number of cases by: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; Avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. People who have cold-like symptoms should cover their mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing and wash their hands frequently and correctly (with soap and water for at least 20 seconds).

Avoid sharing cups and eating utensils with others and refrain from kissing others who have the flu and stay at home when your sick.

For more information, email: surveillance@sintmaartengov.org