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By Aabigayle McIntosh
Health authorities are advising residents to exercise infection-prevention methods to prevent the spread of germs, as the influenza virus (FLU) continues to affect the Caribbean region.
The Health department says the Influenza A and B viruses are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics seen each year usually between October and February.
The Influenza A virus is spread mainly by droplets when people with the flu talk, cough, or sneeze. Less often, a person might get the 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. 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 diarrhoea. 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.
Recognizing flu symptoms early is crucial for prompt medical attention and preventing further spread, the ministry says.
Additionally, individuals are reminded to practice preventive measures, such as getting vaccinated, practicing good hand hygiene, and avoiding close contact with sick individuals.
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 at no cost. Citizens and residents are therefore encouraged to utilize the service.