The Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment would like to advise the public that Influenza A H3N2 has been detected in Antigua and Barbuda. Influenza is a respiratory disease that is caused by the Influenza virus that affects the nose, throat and lungs. The Influenza A and B viruses are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics seen each year usually between October and February. The new cases were identified in three children who have recovered.
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 flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. Prevention includes social and physical distancing, cough and sneeze etiquette, regular hand washing and sanitization of frequently touched surfaces.
Symptoms of Influenza A or flu infections include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches and headaches. Some persons may have vomiting and diarrhea. Illness can be severe or mild and can lead to 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.
Influenza can be prevented through vaccination with the Influenza vaccine. This is available to the general public at the main health centers in Antigua and Barbuda. The elderly population and health care workers are encouraged to get vaccinated against Influenza by getting the Influenza or flu vaccine.