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(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – The Ministry of Health has raised the issue of concern after a significant increase in the number of cases of fever and respiratory (flu-like) illnesses since the beginning of the year.
Seasonal influenza ("flu") is an acute viral infection that spreads easily from person to person, mainly through coughing, sneezing and close contact.
The Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, said this afternoon to Parliament that data captured by the syndrome surveillance system from the 78 markets across the country showed a tendency to increase this syndrome.
"This may mean an early warning of an increase in the flu," said Tufton, noting that trends are being made for three age groups – children under five, five to 59, and over 60.
The paraphyses that have shown a growing trend toward the virus include Kingston & St Andrew, Trelawny, Clarendon, Manchester, St. Elizabeth and Portland.
Tufton stressed that flu should be taken seriously as it can lead to pneumonia and blood infections and cause diarrhea and seizures in children.
Flu can also aggravate chronic diseases such as heart or lung disease. People at greater risk of dangerous influenza complications are babies and young children, adults over 65, pregnant women and those with chronic illness or weakened immune system.
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Meanwhile, the minister informed that in preparation for this flu season, the ministry had purchased a total of 21,900 doses of influenza vaccine through the Revolving Vaccine Fund of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and distributed to parish health departments at the end of October 2018.
He also started vaccinating target groups in November 2018.
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