Respiratory illness on the rise

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Health authorities are reporting a hike in cases of respiratory illness since the start of  September.

Word of the increase in cases in both the private and public sectors has come from Senior Medical Officer of Health (North), Dr Leslie Rollock, who said the numbers were greater than those seen for the corresponding period in 2018.

“For the subset of cases tested, the dominant causative organism identified was the rhinovirus, or common cold virus, with sporadic cases of the flu viruses that circulate in Barbados,” she explained.

Dr Rollock noted that Barbados’ flu season usually starts in the latter half of October and suggested that people with asthma, diabetes or other non-communicable diseases, who are at risk of severe illness from the virus, should ask their doctor about getting the flu vaccine.

She reminded citizens to continue practising good hand hygiene, as this was the most effective way of reducing the transmission of respiratory viruses.

“These practices include washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and drying them with disposable tissue. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is recommended.

“Persons are also advised to keep unwashed hands away from the eyes, nose and mouth; and avoid touching these areas as germs can enter the body this way. Those who are ill should cover the nose and mouth with tissue when coughing or sneezing,” she advised, adding that an alternative to the latter advice was to cough or sneeze into the inner side of the elbow..

Dr Rollock added that used tissues should be disposed of in a bin or in a tied plastic bag, and hands cleansed before handling anything else.

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