Dr. Frew Benson, the Chief Director of Communicable Diseases in the Department of Health, said a well-trained Outbreak Response Team has been on high alert since the cholera outbreak a few months ago and is prepared to attend to any case of Influenza A H1N1, commonly known as Swine Flu.
Last week he explained to the media how the team would respond after being alerted of a suspected case.
‘They would go out to that particular case, investigate, take all the epidemiological data around this case, make certain that the case is isolated and trace all the contacts of this case. They will then make sure, if the case meets the criteria for treatment with anti-virals’, said Dr. Benson.
The department has assured the public that it has stockpiled more than enough batches of the anti-viral drug, Tamiflu, which has been found to be effective against swine flu.
‘We’ve got a 100 000 doses (of Tamiflu) and we’ve got more available if need be. If you look at a scenario similar to Mexico, you would need round about 10 000 to 12 000 doses and that is more than adequate. We have more than 10 times that amount’, said Dr. Benson.
The department of health and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), however, warned against any ‘irrational use of Tamiflu’, saying this could lead to a resistant strain of Influenza A H1N1 virus.
‘It’s not indicated for every case of Swine Influenza. The mild cases do not need Tamiflu and are not being treated with Tamiflu. It’s only patients who’ve got moderate to severe disease who are hospitalised or those who are at risk for complications of influenza. It’s not the whole population who might get Swine Flu, who would need Tamiflu’, said Dr Lucille Blumberg, a specialist Clinical Microbiologist at the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS).