Mauritius on high alert over swine flu

A boy receives an H1N1 vaccine. Several cases of the virus have been reported in Mauritius. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Mauritius is on high alert over an outbreak of swine flu (H1N1) infections.

Several cases of the viral infection have been reported on the Indian Ocean island state, prompting health authorities to urge the public to take preventive measures.

According to health officials, 30 cases have been reported since January, with a recent one identified at Candos Public Hospital, in the northern.

Ministry of Health officials said due to the severity of the virus, constant monitoring and detection of cases might help control future outbreaks.

Mauritians were encouraged to be vaccinated through a national immunisation scheme, rolled out by the Ministry of Health in 2009.

Speaking to journalists Friday, Mauritius Deputy Director of Health Services Tilochun Nundlall said the government was conducting a research on swine flu since it was a national health risk.

Mr Nundall said swine flu virus was first detected on the island nation in 2009, adding that the country's tropical environment may affect the viral severity.

He also called on Mauritians to maintain hygiene when handling food.

No international travel warnings have been issued by the government so far, though Mauritius Customs department announced that they would maintain extra vigilance at the border.

In May, the island nation was put on a high health alert due to bird flu (H7N9) cases in China, leading to thorough screening of passengers arriving at various points.

H1N1 is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by Type A influenza that regularly causes outbreaks among the animals.

The World Health Organisation declared the swine flu pandemic over in August 2010, more than a year after the virus that emerged from Mexico, sparked panic and killed thousands of people around the world.

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