Jan 26, 2016 News
– represents PAHO support to Public Health Ministry
An order of 10,000 doses of the H1N1 vaccine is on its way to Guyana to aid the Public Health Ministry’s effort to combat the virus. The Ministry was able to secure support from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) to order the vaccines, according to Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud.
Dr. Persaud was at the time speaking at a forum held at the PAHO, Brickdam, Georgetown, office yesterday. He asserted that “one of the critical forms of support through PAHO is that they have assisted us with our vaccines…and we are expecting (the H1N1) vaccines shortly, I understand. PAHO has been more than a partner to us; it is a part of the Ministry”.
But according to PAHO Resident Representative, Dr. William Adu-Crow, there has unfortunately been a delay in the arrival of vaccines to tackle the prevailing H1N1 health threat.
“For some reason when things happen, strange things also happen…The vaccine is moving from place to place; it has been shipped already, it’s just that it has not reached here as yet, so we hope to soon get that,” the PAHO Representative related.
Since the recent emergence of the virus, which is commonly referred to as swine flu because of its origin among pigs, one related death has been confirmed. But according to Dr. Persaud, the Public Health Ministry has not reported any other positive case since.
But Dr. Persaud noted that “we continue to maintain surveillance. We have been tracking (cases) and there are some samples that have been reported on.” He disclosed yesterday, too, that currently the Ministry is awaiting the return of the results of two batches of samples that were sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad for testing.
“We have had suspicious cases with similar kinds of presentation and so on,” said Dr. Persaud, as he revealed that elderly folks might be among the most vulnerable in the population.
“We have had a lot of elderly people going into hospitals developing pneumonia and dying…We are testing these elderly people now because some of these might be related to the emerging strains of the influenza.”
Some of the symptoms of the virus are cough, fever, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, body aches, chills and fatigue.
The CMO is confident that a wide cross-section of the population is already immunised against the H1N1 virus. Following an outbreak of the virus in 2009, the Health Ministry had delivered about 120,000 doses of vaccines to the population.
“That is a very specific vaccine for that influenza virus, and my knowledge indicates you will be protected against the particular strain for maybe about 10 years,” he related.
According to Dr. Persaud, the viral influenza is predominantly spread by direct contact with persons who are infected.
“Most of the time it is spread by droplets… Those droplets can get on the hands, they can get on door handles, car seats, in public transportation and pretty much everywhere…So one of the principal things that we are encouraging everyone to do, including health workers, is to wash your hands as frequently as you can.”
According to the CMO, taking hygienic precautions could in fact reduce the likelihood of a person being infected with the H1N1 virus by as much as 99 per cent.
“There is a small chance you can get it from the air, but most infection is through direct contact,” Dr. Persaud asserted.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported that most human infections have been mild and the virus usually is not spread to other people.
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