Health officials in Puerto Rico have declared an influenza epidemic. This was announced during a news conference with the Secretary of the Department of Health, Carlos Mellado López, accompanied by the main health official epidemiology, Melissa Marzán, and the main medical officer, Iris Cardona.
The Secretary explained that this week fatalities increased to 42, with 903 hospitalisations recorded and 25,900 cases so far for this season of influenza, which started in July.
“This epidemic declaration is to alert and inform citizens about the actions we must take. This is not the time to be alarmed, but to prepare to help prevent the increase in the spread of this virus. Already the health providers are working with measures to reduce the spread and prevent the virus. Fortunately, we have enough screening tests, vaccines and treatments required to deal with cases of influenza and “Everyone is accessible and distributed throughout the island,” said Mellado.
The pediatric population between 0 to 19 years old has been the most affected this season with 13,666 cases reported, the group of adults between the ages of 20 to 59 years amounts to 9,656 cases, while 2,578 cases have been registered in adults greater. The sustained rise in influenza cases has been reflected in the past 12 consecutive weeks.
Last season (2022 to 2023) closed with 31,710 cases, 1,224 hospitalisations and 15 fatalities.
“The current flu season began above the alert threshold early and, recently, it has already shown epidemic behaviour with 5.7 times more cases compared to last season to this moment” said Dr Melissa Marzán, Chief Epidemiology Officer.
Meanwhile, Dr Iris Cardona, Chief Medical Officer, highlighted that “the call is simple, get vaccinated. Vaccination is the main shield against some diseases and anyone over six months old is eligible to receive it. This is available around the island at vaccination providers, pharmacies community and chain and in vaccination activities organised in centres commercial. “We are also vaccinating at school.”
The goal of the Department of Health is to vaccinate as many people as possible before the Christmas festivities.
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