Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hazel Laws

BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 10th January 2020)-Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hazel Laws is advising individuals to stay at home if they have the flu illness.

“If you are ill with the flu, you should remain at home from school and work. Make sure to see your regular physician and ascertain an official sick leave certificate.”

She made the disclosure this week during a message publicised on Wednesday 8th January 2020 on the Influenza (flu) season while listing seven (7) prevention tips.

As outlined by Dr. Laws, members of the public are encouraged to:

1. Stay away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing – the virus is spread via the tiny droplets of respiratory secretions from infected persons who cough and sneeze

 2. Keep your hands away from your face and far away from your mouth and nose – you can get sick if you touch an infected surface and transfer the virus to your nose and mouth.

 3. Clean and disinfect communal surfaces at least once per day – for example, clean door knobs in the home and work place (the virus can remain viable without a host for about 24 hours)

4. Wash your hands properly after touching any commonly touched surfaces – such as door handles, water coolers, communal keyboards and light switches

  5. If you are ill with the flu, you should remain at home from school and work

 6. Keep well-hydrated and get enough sleep/rest for optimal functioning of your immune system.

7.  Get the flu vaccine – persons 65 years and older, adults with chronic conditions like asthma, pregnant women and frontline health workers can get the flu vaccine at any health centre in St. Kitts & Nevis.  The flu vaccine helps to prevent the serious complications of the flu and has been available in the Federation since the 2017-2018 flu season.

According to the CMO, the flu can be dangerous in children under five (5) years, in persons over 65 years, pregnant women and in persons with chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes.

To this end, she recommends that “you visit your regular doctor or the district medical officer at the nearest health centre if you develop any symptoms of the flu.  The flu virus can adversely affect older persons and can lead to lifethreatening complications. Be proactive in strengthening your immune system and take preventive steps to avoid getting the flu.”

Dr. Laws stated that the flu usually comes on suddenly within one (1) to four (4) days after becoming infected noting that persons who have the flu often experience some or all of the following symptoms- fever, sore throat, coughing, stuffy or runny nose, muscle and joint pains (body aches), headache and sometimes dizziness, chills, Loss of taste sensation and appetite, malaise and fatigue as well as sometimes diarrhoea and vomiting.

 “We are in the middle of the Influenza (flu) season which occurs anywhere from November of each year to March of the following year.  Influenza (flu) is an acute and very contagious respiratory tract infection caused by influenza type A (H1N1 & H3N2) and type B viruses circulating in our Federation, in the region and all parts of the world.  The influenza virus causes mild to very severe illness and, at times, can lead to death,” she also informed.

 Additionally, the CMO pointed out that most persons recover from these flu symptoms within one (1) week.

“However, some persons are at high risk of progressing and developing complications of the flu like ear infection, sinus infection, lung infection or pneumonia, and even worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes, which can be fatal.”