Outbreak of Respiratory Syncytial Virus and Influenza Type A illness in Saint Lucia.

Saint Lucia: Outbreak of Respiratory Illness

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Castries, Saint Lucia: The respiratory illness has been discovered among the people of Saint Lucia. It is reported that they are suffering from the flu-like symptoms.

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs, through routine surveillance, has pointed out that an increase is noted both in visits to the emergency departments and hospital admissions.

It is evident, particularly for children less than five years of age.

During the surveillance, the system has identified that there are two commonly spread viral infections at this time such as,

– Influenza type A

– Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Although, it has been observed that RSV has been identified in the majority of samples tested.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

RSV is considered the highly infectious and most common respiratory infection, which can generally observed mostly in young children. However, the effects can be seen in adults as well.

Despite the fact that RSV symptoms are usually mild or lenient at the same time, it could develop more severe illness and hospitalization, especially in people like,

  • Infants (0-12 months)
  • Individuals who are immunocompromised
  • Individuals with chronic heart or lung disease
  • Older person (65 years of age or older)

Symptoms of RSV

Like other respiratory viruses, the RSV symptoms include,

  1. Coughing
  2. Runny nose
  3. Fever
  4. Wheezing
  5. Sneezing
  6. Decreased appetite

Meanwhile, in very young infants, the most common symptoms are decreased activity, breathing difficulties, and irritability. This infectious disease can be spread through,

– Touching an object or surface that has been infected with the virus and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes

– Large droplets when someone sneezes or coughs

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine available currently in Saint Lucia for RSV; however, the public is motivated to stop the spread of respiratory illness by,

  • Covering your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing
  • Washing your hands properly after coughing or sneezing
  • Maintaining proper hand hygiene
  • Avoiding sharing utensils and cups
  • Consulting healthcare professional if one feels flu-like symptoms worsen or linger
  • Wearing a mask where possible, especially in crowded places
  • Avoiding contact with people who are at higher risk of severe illness, such as older people, infants and especially those who are immunocompromised until one may feel better
  • Cleaning objects and surfaces such as toys by using a household detergent, more specifically if they have been sneezed upon
  • Avoiding close contact with others who are sick
  • Should not attend work or send sick children to school or day-care centres until they are not feeling better

The reminder is given to the people by the Ministry of Health that they are currently in the flu season, which exists from October to March. People are suggested to take necessary measures to avoid getting infected.