The flu season occurs anywhere from November each year to March of the following year.
Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health on St. Kitts Dr. Hazel Laws advises that persons should take the flu virus seriously as it can cause mild to severe illness and even death.
“Influenza or the flu is an acute and very contagious respiratory tract infection caused by the Influenza types A and B viruses which are 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. The flu usually comes on suddenly within one to four days after becoming infected. 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 & fatigue, sometimes diarrhoea and vomiting.
“Most persons recover from these flu symptoms within one 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.”
The CMO shared tips on avoiding catching and spreading the virus, including advising those with the flu to stay away from work and school.
“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; Clean and disinfect communal surfaces at least once per day; Keep well-hydrated and get enough sleep / rest for optimal functioning of your immune system;
“If you are ill with the flu you should remain at home from school and work; 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.”
She pointed out that 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, and can adversely affect older persons and can lead to life-threatening complications.
Dr. Laws recommended visiting your regular doctor or the district medical officer at the nearest health center if you develop any symptoms of the flu.
The US Centre for Disease for Disease Control says 2020 is on track to be the worst US flu season in decades. The CDC data suggests it will be especially severe, especially for children as influenza B is this season’s dominant strain and young children are more susceptible to that strain compared to Influenza A.
The CDC estimates at least 2,900 people in the US have died from the flu this season, including 27 children.