Slater: World not prepared for bird flu
October 21, 2005

Slater: World not prepared for bird flu

This country’s Minister of Health has expressed the hope that St.Vincent and the Grenadines will not have to deal with a Bird Flu pandemic because like the rest of the world St.Vincent and the Grenadines is unprepared to deal with it.

“The world is not prepared. No country in the world is properly prepared should there be a pandemic. Neither is SVG. I cannot say we are in any way prepared,” Dr. Slater noted.{{more}}

At the press conference held at Cabinet Room last Tuesday morning, Dr.Slater said the conference was called to allay the fears of Vincentians in the wake of the spread of the Bird Flu in some Asian countries and the potential of the virus mutating to a strain that can spread amongst humans.

“We do not yet have a pandemic!” Dr. Slater emphasized as he urged the media to act responsibly during this period.

Aware of the country’s heightened political climate as propaganda intensifies as the date for elections draws nigh, Dr. Slater warned: “We don’t want people to play politics with the virus.”

The Health Minister disclosed that the local health officials are working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC).

He said the directive of the WHO is being followed and the SARS plan will be put in place.

Dr. Slater noted that the Accident and Emergency Centre along with the district clinics would be acting as satellite centres to carry out surveillance for the disease. The Minister further stated that the Ministry of Health and Environment was working in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture on the issue.

The public was also advised by the Minister to report any dead birds to the authorities that they may see around.

Dr.Slater said the symptoms of Bird Flu are like those of any influenza, such as coughing, fever and rapid deterioration of the respiratory system.

The public was also encouraged to continue eating chicken.

“People should not be worried about eating chicken,” said Dr.Slater as he explained that if the virus was present at boiling point there is very little chance of survival. He said the virus is spread through bird droppings and urine.

Since 1997 there have been 117 reported cases of humans infected with the Bird Flu and so far 60 have died.