The Ministry of Health has confirmed the presence of the H1N1 virus in the region but could not confirm its presence in St. Lucia. The revelation follows the deaths of two males recently which have been linked to respiratory illnesses. The H1N1 virus or swine flu is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs. It is caused by the H1N1 influenza virus.
The H1N1 virus is now considered a regular flu virus. It is one of the three viruses included in the regular seasonal flu vaccine.
The two male individuals according to the Ministry of Health showed respiratory symptoms initially and died in less than a week. In one case the individual died before reaching the health facility. Although Officials await results of tests conducted overseas preliminary tests done here suggest that the two patients suffered from respiratory conditions. In February the Ministry sent out a release alerting the public of an increase in number of cases of respiratory illness which is unusual for this time of year. This pattern is not unique to St. Lucia. It also showed up in Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago. To local authorities it appears that the H1N1 virus or swine flu as it is most commonly called is circulating at high levels in the region. However Authorities cannot confirm its presence in St. Lucia
The virus affects persons of all age groups but persons who are most at risk include the elderly, the very young, pregnant women and persons with medical conditions. Regarding the two deaths the individuals had no known history of chronic illness. Most cases of respiratory illness according to the Ministry are mild and are most prevalent in the south of the island. The Ministry could not pinpoint a reason for this
According to the Ministry the post mortem exam indicated that in the two cases the major organs affected were the lungs in keeping with respiratory conditions although other conditions like leptospirosis show similar symptoms. The Ministry is urging the public to take precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the flu such as covering their cough and frequent washing of the hands as respiratory illnesses are transmitted through droplets