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Influenza alert issued

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An influenza alert has been issued by the Ministry of Health and Wellness following the detection of the influenza A (H3N2) strain in Antigua and Barbuda.

In a statement, the ministry revealed that cases have been identified in three children who have now recovered.

Health officials say the influenza A and B viruses are responsible for the seasonal flu epidemics which are most prevalent between October and February.

Infected persons suffer symptoms which most often affect the nose, throat and lungs.

The influenza A virus is spread mainly by droplets when people with the flu talk, cough or sneeze. Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly, their eyes.

Symptoms of influenza A include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches and headaches.

Some people may experience vomiting and diarrhoea.

The illness can be mild or very severe with its most serious outcome being death.

The elderly and children are more susceptible to severe disease and complications such as pneumonia and death.

Particular attention must be made to these age groups if they exhibit flu symptoms, the Ministry of Health and Wellness has advised.

Prevention includes social and physical distancing, cough and sneeze etiquette, regular hand washing and the sanitisation of frequently touched surfaces.

A defence mechanism against the virus is the influenza vaccine which is available to the public through health centres across the country.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness is encouraging the public, and particularly the elderly and health care workers, to be inoculated against influenza

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