Playing it safe: Travellers wear face masks as they go through an airport to help lessen the possibility of catching the swine flu.  *Reuters Overseas photo
Playing it safe: Travellers wear face masks as they go through an airport to help lessen the possibility of catching the swine flu. *Reuters Overseas photo
WEDNESDAY, JAN. 6: At least one person infected with the swine flu has died in Bermuda since May 2009. A second local influenza death was not confirmed as an H1N1 case.

Testing for the H1N1 strain of influenza began in Bermuda in May 2009. Of the 73 people tested for the "swine flu" virus to date, there have been 25 recorded cases, according to the Department of Health. At least 11 people have been hospitalized with H1N1 flu symptoms.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Cann confirmed today in a press release that "cases of 2009 H1N1 influenza continue to be reported on the island". He stressed that influenza is usually a moderately severe illness in healthy children and adults. However, it can be very severe for people who are not healthy.

According to the World Health Organization, 12,220 deaths worldwide have been attributed to the swine flu. More than 208 countries have reported laboratory-confirmed cases of pandemic influenza.

However, influenza cases seem to have peaked in Western Europe and North America, Dr. Cann continued.

He emphasized the importance of vaccination for people who could be susceptible to influenza complications, including those who have a chronic lung disease such as asthma or emphysema, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, diabetes or a chronic metabolic disorder, severe anemia, or an immunosuppressive disorder.

A supply of the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine is now available on the island by prescription for high-risk individuals. The vaccinations can be obtained from the Hamilton Health Centre, Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 11:30am. Doctors have also been given a limited supply for distribution in their offices.

Influenza vaccinations will be available to the general public at the Hamilton Health Centre starting Monday, January 18.