Caribbean 360 (see link below) is reporting the first suspected cases of swine flu in the region in Belize and Barbados, while in the Bahamas a group of students returning from Mexico has been placed under preventive quarantine. In the wake of the announcement from the World Health Organization (WHO) that it was raising its global alert to level five, an indication that they believe a pandemic is imminent, Belize officials have announced that they have identified two suspected cases of swine flu and have sent samples to the Caribbean Epidemiology Center (CAREC) in Trinidad for testing. Belize’s Deputy Director of health Services at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Jorge Polanco, explained that the results were expected back this weekend. The patients in question, who had symptoms of influenza, “had visited the area of Chetumal (capital of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo).” Questioned on rumors of additional cases, he added that “the Ministry has not gotten any official documentation on them as yet.” All major public events, including the National Agriculture and Trade Show, the Crooked Tree Cashew Fest, and a Morgan Heritage concert scheduled for the long weekend, have been called off in Belize as health authorities investigate.
In Barbados, Minister of Health Donville Inniss also confirmed that at least two local samples had been sent to CAREC for testing after a number of people with flu-like symptoms began seeking medical attention. Speaking at a media briefing at the Ministry of Health, Inniss said that health officials were looking at each case seriously to make their determinations about the possible presence of the virus in Barbados. He noted there was no facility to test for the new strain in Barbados and CAREC had been designated by WHO as the official testing centre for the region.
In the Bahamas, sixteen Abaco residents who travelled to Mexico on a recent cruise have been locally quarantined on the island by health officials for fear that they may have been exposed to or have contracted the potentially deadly swine flu. Health officials called the quarantine a precautionary measure and at last report there were no documented cases of the swine flu in the country.
For linl to Caribbean 360 story go to http://www.caribbean360.com/News/Caribbean/Stories/2009/04/30/NEWS0000007287.html
The photograph of a swine flu sample above can be found in its original context at http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3202/2853871095_80b230a6f4.jpg%3Fv%3D0&imgrefurl=http://flickr.com/photos/camazine/2853871095/&usg=__TmpLd6kQTULtdi0m8j35oejplss=&h=400&w=341&sz=113&hl=en&start=84&sig2=4Qugz9MeUUEZ4eryDyXmIQ&um=1&tbnid=EdEzQTo3FjMPhM:&tbnh=124&tbnw=106&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dswine%2Bflu%26ndsp%3D21%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D1T4GGIC_enUS276US286%26sa%3DN%26start%3D63%26um%3D1&ei=J2T6SfmkL5zWlQe_n4ipAw