Tue | Jul 23, 2024

Don’t fear the flu season

Published:Wednesday | May 22, 2024 | 12:09 AMShanel Lemmie/Staff Reporter
While some patients are now getting sick longer than they anticipate, Dr Dianne Lewis-Tucker said this is not cause for alarm.
While some patients are now getting sick longer than they anticipate, Dr Dianne Lewis-Tucker said this is not cause for alarm.
Dr Lewis-Tucker recommends keeping some of the practices we’ve learnt during the COVID-19 pandemic, including hand sanitising.
Dr Lewis-Tucker recommends keeping some of the practices we’ve learnt during the COVID-19 pandemic, including hand sanitising.
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Since the beginning April, Jamaica has seemingly been experiencing a flu season unlike the others we have grown so accustomed to. With cases of people being sick for as much as a month, there have been concerns that a possible new wave of COVID-19 has finally darkened our collective doors. With no alert from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, tenured doctor of family medicine Dr Dianne Lewis-Tucker says we can put our minds at ease.

“Although the flu season officially starts about the end of October, it doesn’t official end until February or March. The flu can exist at any time of the year, it’s just that we notice spike in the number of cases during that season,” she began.

“So the recent batch of flu [cases] that we’re seeing now, I wouldn’t be alarmed. But what I am noticing is since COVID-19 the nature of the flu, the symptoms have become a little unusual, not the normal par for the course. A lot of the times patients get sick longer than they anticipate.”

According to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the flu season, in rare cases can last up to May. Atypically, however, a single patient rarely has a single virus for more than two weeks.

“Initially, we were thinking, ‘Lord, this must be another form of the COVID you know’ but it’s not,” Dr Lewis-Tucker explained. “The flu virus, like the COVID virus, has evolved and there are many different strains. Although we haven’t had any notice from the Ministry (of Health and Wellness) about any new virus strains, we are observing that people are remaining ill for longer than we are accustomed to. But I do think it is just due to evolution of the flu viruses.”

The last government advisory cautioning against the flu was issued in September ahead of the period. With her 30 years of experience in medicine, Dr Lewis-Tucker said the best way to combat this phenomenon is to keep some of our coronavirus practices alive.

“We’ve [learnt] a lot from COVID-19, the hand sanitising and staying distances away from persons in crowds are always good. You have to stay away from people who are coughing just like you would before. We have to behave like it’s still COVID times sometimes, if you see persons coughing and sneezing, step back. Put on your mask if you have it in your bag, just try to be sensible.”

She continued, “The other side of the coin is a healthy lifestyle. Eat nutritious foods and taking your Vitamin C supplements. I have not let go of my Vitamin C since COVID-19, 1,000 milligrams a day. That should go a far way in protecting you from what’s going on.”

shanel.lemmie@gleanerjm.com