Objective: To describe epidemiological trends of pandemic influenza A (H1N1) in the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean during the pandemic period.
Design and Methods: Data on laboratory-confirmed cases and deaths associated with pandemic influenza A (H1N1) contained in two regional databases at the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) were analysed. The data sources were epidemiological and laboratory reports from English and Dutch-speaking countries and the CAREC laboratory information system (LABIS).
Results: In the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean, pandemic influenza A (H1N1) was the predominant circulating influenza virus type during the pandemic period. There were three distinct phases: a first pandemic wave during mid-April to end of August 2009 (734 cases), a second pandemic wave during September–December 2009 (570 cases) and a phase of low transmission during January to mid-August 2010 (55 cases). The majority of cases (76%) were aged less than 30 years, with children of school age being most affected. Most cases (89%) presented with symptoms of the respiratory tract and smaller proportions (20–40%) presented with gastrointestinal and other symptoms. No cases tested were resistant to oseltamivir. A quarter of cases required hospitalization and the case fatality rate was 1.8%.
Conclusions: The epidemiological characteristics of the pandemic in the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean were consistent with that in other parts of the world. It is important that post pandemic surveillance (epidemiological and virological) for respiratory illnesses continues to be enhanced in order to give a better understanding of seasonality and changing trends in respiratory illnesses and their aetiologic agents.