THE H1N1 influenza virus has claimed another victim, bringing the death toll for this season so far to 38.
This is according to the Ministry of Health’s latest flu update issued yesterday which stated that “the number of confirmed influenza deaths for this flu season” was at 38.
The ministry reported last Monday that the toll stood at 37, as at Friday, December 27.
Details of the individual cases were not forthcoming but the ministry had assured last month that it was carrying out the necessary analyses, including of the medical histories of the victims and their geographic locations, to pinpoint any trends.
However, conclusive analyses are carried out by the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States and will not be available until close to the end of the annual ‘flu’ season, which runs from October to May.
The ministry has continued to urge the population to access “flu” vaccines free of charge at district health centres.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has in the meantime hit out at “anti-vaxxers” or persons who warn against dangers believed by some to be associated with vaccines, including pre-natal side effects.
Deyalsingh instead appealed to persons who fall into “risk” groups to seek vaccination as early as possible and dismissed concern that the vaccine may negatively affect pregnant women and their unborn babies.
Risk groups include pregnant women, children between six months and five years, persons over the age of 65, the immuno-compromised, those with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including diabetes mellitus and those with respiratory illnesses such as asthma.
Those working in the health sector should also get vaccinated, he has said.
The public is reminded that good hygiene remains a simple and effective way to prevent spread of the virus, including the regular washing of hands.
Staying away from those afflicted with the “flu” — or staying away from others if you are yourself sick — is also important.
As of Friday, January 3, the cumulative number of vaccines administered to the public for this flu season was at 52,221.
The number of suspected influenza cases for the year now stands at 3,573.