First H1N1 flu case confirmed in Statia

ST. EUSTATIUS--A 25-year-old male who visited Statia from the United States on June 28 is the island?s first confirmed H1N1 flu virus case.

National Epidemiologist Dr. Izzy Gertzenbluth said Monday the patient is now fully recovered after a period of isolation. He said the patient had developed symptoms the day before leaving the United States and contacted his house doctor two days after visiting the island. He was immediately requested to go in confinement.

Samples were taken and sent to the Netherlands. The samples returned positive on Saturday.

Gertzenbluth said all Netherlands Antilles islands were following the same protocol to prevent the spread of the flu virus.

In the meantime, Statia health officials, Dr. George Odongo and Carol Jack of the Health Department, also confirmed the case and said the patient had recuperated.

Public Health official Rachel Carty also gave preventative information to residents via the local radio station. Carty said the necessary precautionary measures were being applied.

Authorities advise anyone who had travelled to the United States, Mexico, or any country with confirmed cases, or anyone who had been in close contact with a confirmed case and was displaying symptoms to call their house doctor or the public health department on 318-2211, 318-2371, or 318-2981. Residents should not visit the hospital. The symptoms are similar to that of the common flu.

Residents were also advised to follow safe hygiene practises such as washing hands frequently with warm water and soap, covering their mouth and nose when coughing and properly disposing of tissues. The use of alcohol-base hand cleansers was also promoted.

Reports indicated that the news of the first H1N1 case came as a shock to some residents.