The health apparatus of Puerto Rico has stated that the nation is dealing with an Influenza Epidemic. The announcement was made by the Secretary of the Department of Health, Carlos Mellado López, who was accompanied by Melissa Marzán the prime Health Official Epidemiology and Medical Officer Iris Cardona.
Reports suggest that 25,900 cases have been registered since July. 42 people have lost their lives while 903 have officially been hospitalized.
“This epidemic declaration is to alert and inform citizens about the actions we must take. This is not the time to be alarmed, but to prepare to help prevent the increase in the spread of this virus. Already the health providers are working with measures to reduce the spread and prevent the virus. Fortunately, we have enough screening tests, vaccines and treatments required to deal with cases of influenza and everyone is accessible and distributed throughout the island” Mellado stated.
Another significant fact that has been made public is that 13,666 cases out of the total number, have been registered in pediatric patients (0 to 19 years). 9,656 cases have been registered in patients between 20 and 59 years of age.
2,578 cases have been registered in adults aged more than 59 years. The rate at which cases have been rising in the last 12 weeks has been alarming as the numbers have been growing each consecutive week.
Dr Melissa Marzán, the Chief Epidemiology Officer, also stated, “The current flu season began above the alert threshold early and, recently, it has already shown epidemic behaviour with 5.7 times more cases compared to last season to this moment.”
“The call is simple, get vaccinated. Vaccination is the main shield against some diseases and anyone over six months old is eligible to receive it. This is available around the island at vaccination providers, pharmacies community and chain and in vaccination activities organised in centres commercial” said Dr Iris Cardona, the Chief Medical Officer.
The Department of Health is now aiming at vaccinating as many people as possible before Christmas celebrations begin. This will help avoid an even more rapid spread of the disease as people are likely to congregate in groups during the festivities.