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Swine flu….. No deaths in Ghana but…

Statement on current situation of Pandemic Influenza H1N1 In Ghana as at 19/11/2009 issued by the Ministry of HealthA total of 345 specimens (294 suspected cases and 51 contacts) have been investigated at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (National Influenza Centre).

The total number confirmed as positive for Influenza H1N1 2009 virus stands at thirty eight (38).  An upsurge in cases has been identified in a localized outbreak in an educational setting, the Lincoln Community School. Out of a school population of about 700, there have been 16 confirmed cases representing about 2% of the school population.

All confirmed cases have been treated, are doing well and do not pose a public health threat to the general public. All the necessary measures have been taken to break the cycle of transmission within the school. This includes the suspension of school activities for 10 days.

We have so far received maximum cooperation from the school authorities to contain the outbreak and are continuing to work with them.  The country’s situation is being closely monitored as Influenza Pandemics have been known to occur in waves; from ‘mild’ to ‘moderate’ and to ‘severe’.

No death has been recorded in Ghana so far.  The following activities are being carried:  Sensitization of Muslim Pilgrims at Hajj village. Drugs for treating the disease have been left with the medical team to treat those who may contact the disease whiles in Mecca during the pilgrimage.

Technical support visits and training of regional and district teams in surveillance and management of the diseases have been undertaken by national teams to all ten regions from 26th -31st October 2009
Regional and district teams continuing surveillance and management of cases.

Meetings of Technical Coordinating Committees at national, regional and district levels ongoing.
Intensification of public education through mass media: electronic and print
Collection and transportation of samples from suspected cases to Noguchi for diagnosis is ongoing

Anti-viral drugs for H1N1 and materials for collecting specimen from suspected patients have been distributed to all the regions
The communication strategy has been activated and posters on influenza H1N1 distributed to all the regions for use

All Regional Health Directorates have been directed to work with media houses to secure free air-time to educate the public on the disease
The School Health Education Programme (SHEP) Coordinators are taking steps to sensitize school children and to facilitate the detection of any case of fever with cough or sore throat for immediate notification

A National Launching Programme is planned for the 23rd of November 2009 We hereby request the general public and all stakeholders to support in the management of the situation.

The basic facts of the disease and its prevention are summarized below: What is Pandemic Influenza H1N1 2009?
Pandemic Influenza H1N1 2009 is a disease that is caused by a virus that affects the respiratory system.

The symptoms of Pandemic Influenza H1N1 2009 are:
Fever
Cough
Sore throat
Body aches
Headache, chills and fatigue
In some cases, vomiting and diarrhoea

Complications of the disease include pneumonia and difficulty in breathing.
Death may occur in persons who have other medical problems or complications

How does Pandemic Influenza H1N1 2009 spread?
Influenza viruses are mainly spread from one person to another through droplets released during coughing or sneezing;
Sometimes people may become infected by touching surfaces or holding objects contaminated with influenza viruses (e.g., hands, door handles, handkerchiefs, tissue paper) and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.

How is Pandemic Influenza H1N1 2009 managed?
There is no vaccine available at the moment; however, studies are being conducted to produce a vaccine;
Antivirals (medicines used for managing infection with a virus), can be used to treat the disease. Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) is one of the effective medicines currently being used;

Antiviral medicines work better if started soon after getting sick (within two days of appearance of symptoms);
If a person is in contact with or likely to be exposed to a sick person, how can he avoid being infected?

Regular washing of hands with soap and water is strongly recommended;
Hand rubbing with alcohol is also advised where available
Keep a distance of at least one step (one meter) from the infected person to avoid coming into contact with the influenza droplets;
If contact with a sick person or with potentially infected surfaces or objects occurs, those involved must not touch their eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands;

Health Care Workers attending to sick persons should use a face mask in accordance with guidelines provided by national health authorities;
It is advisable to be physically active, drink plenty of fluids, eat well, reduce stress and have enough sleep.
People should seek treatment immediately if infection is suspected, if symptoms occur or when advised by a health worker

What can infected individuals do to prevent spreading Pandemic Influenza H1N1 2009 to others?
Sick persons if not on admission should stay at home and limit contact with others as much as possible
They should cover their mouth with a handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing or coughing; Tissue paper, handkerchief or other material used by the sick person for wiping his nose or mouth, must not be used by others
The infected person should wear a mask when in contact with others

If there is no tissue paper or cloth, the sick person should cover his face with his arm before sneezing or coughing, and not use his hands to contaminate surfaces or things that may be touched or held by others
Hands should be washed regularly with soap and water

What should communities do to help prevent the spread of Pandemic Influenza H1N1 2009?
Ensure community members know how to limit the spread of influenza, the symptoms of the disease and what to do if infection occurs

Ensure provision of care for those infected
Support social distancing, isolation or quarantine when requested by a health worker (or as determined by health authorities)
Establish contact with the nearest health facility that will provide support in managing the disease
Report suspected cases and deaths to a health worker or other relevant authority
Chemical sellers and pharmacy shops are to encourage clients with Fever + cough and/or sore throat to seek care in a health institution.

A person is suspected to have the disease when the one develops fever with cough and or sore throat. Such an individual should immediately report to the health facility.

ISSUED BY MINISTRY OF HEALTH/GHANA HEALTH SERVICE

Source: Modernghana

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