Update on Health Concerns

Dr. Patrick Martin
Dr. Patrick Martin

The following is a statement to National Media from The Office of Dr. Patrick Martin, Chief Medical Officer, Ministry of Health, Basseterre

The Ministry of Heath, Basseterre, is monitoring several events of public health interest and concern:

A: Gastroenteritis

In the Federation, there is an increase in the number of cases of vomiting and diarrhea involving children under the age of 5 years. Symptoms are consistent with a virus cause. Properly managed children get better in 2 – 3 days. There is no need for alarm or panic.

Parents, guardians and child care workers are asked to be vigilant especially with sick infants. Any infant who is vomiting at a rate of 4 or more episodes within 3 to 4 hours requires medical attention. Other children may be easily managed at home as follows:

1. To prevent and treat dehydration

a. Give clear liquids such as coconut water and hydration fluid (available from supermarkets or pharmacies) at a rate of 3 to 4 ounces every 3 to 4 hours.

b. Discontinue all milk feeds except breast milk.

c. Discontinue all juices, other sweet beverages and snacks.

d. Do not give soda beverages such as Sprite and Coca Cola.

e. Do not give medications that claim to stop vomiting and diarrhea.

f. Do not give antibiotics; they are useless and hazardous.

g. Go to the nearest emergency room if the child is weak or has dark colored urine.

h. Contact your health center or personal physician if they are questions.

2. To prevent or interrupt the spread of infection

a. Children with vomiting and diarrhea must not attend day care or pre-school.

b. Caretakers must wash their hands frequently with soap and water.

c. Soiled diapers must be properly bagged for collection and disposal. Bleach may be added.

d. Countertops and door knobs should be wiped with detergent.

B: Measles

There is an outbreak of measles in the USA. Measles is a highly contagious virus illness which causes pneumonia and other complications.

Measles has been eradicated from the Federation because of the free vaccination program offered by the Ministry of Health through community health centers. The last known case of measles in the Federation was in 1992.

Persons travelling to the USA with an unvaccinated child should contact the community health centers or their personal physician for advice.

Any unvaccinated child coming to the Federation from the USA or any other country where measles is endemic, who develops fever and a rash, must be taken for medical attention.

C: Chikungunya

The number of new cases of chikungunya continues to decline. Residents are urged to continue mosquito eradication measures. Littering should not be tolerated in your yards and community.

D: Ebola

The most recent updates from the World Health Organization indicate a downward trend in the number of new cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Response activities there have shifted from slowing transmission to ending the epidemic by rapidly identifying and treating all new cases.

Although the Federation is at very low risk for virus entry, vigilance continues in conjunction with OECS and CARICOM countries, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

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