SWINE FLU — City businessman is first victim
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FIFTY-YEAR-OLD Vishnunarine Sugrim, also known as ‘Shook’, a city businessman who was initially being monitored in Georgetown for Swine Flu, caused by the H1N1 virus, died on Old Year’s Day at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where he had been hospitalised for about two weeks, his family confirmed yesterday.He was the owner of the Agri Implements store that sold parts for agricultural machinery in Georgetown. His other brothers own the popular related agri machinery businesses known as Agri Parts and GuyTrac.

Sugrim’s wife, Geeta, told this newspaper that her husband had, on December 11, returned to Guyana ill from a trip to China. He was taken to the Balwant Singh private city hospital, where a number of tests were done to determine whether he had malaria, typhoid, and even cancer, his wife said.

When her husband was suspected to have contracted Swine Flu, and Health authorities here had sent samples of his blood to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad for testing, Shook’s wife had said: “They have no test here to say; they assumed that!”

Mrs Sugrim said that when her husband was transferred to the Miami hospital, it was discovered that he was suffering from severe pneumonia, and a strain of H1N1 virus was found in his blood.

“When we got (to Miami), there was a mass on his lungs which was caused by pneumonia plus another influenza which they assumed was H1N1,” Mrs Sugrim said last evening. She said her husband had suffered other health complications such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Public Health Minister Dr George Norton confirmed that the man whom health authorities had suspected of having contracted the H1N1 virus had died. Dr Norton said that although the patient’s immune system had been compromised, local health officials could not say definitively that he died as a result of the H1N1 virus.

It was after the tests from CARPHA were returned that health officials confirmed that Sugrim was positively carrying the H1N1 virus.
“The H1N1 virus, also known as Swine Flu, has been detected in Guyana, with one person already confirmed as having the virus,” Chief Medical Officer Dr Shamdeo Persaud had said on Old Year’s Day, the very day the patient died.

Public Health Minister Dr George Norton has said that relatives and staff of the Balwant Singh Hospital who had monitored the patient were under surveillance for the virus.

Mrs Sugrim told the Guyana Chronicle that she and other relatives were free of the virus.
“There is nothing to be alarmed about,” Mrs Sugrim said, and she wanted to assure that there was no need for a panic about Swine flu locally.

Apart from his wife, the late Vishnunarine Sugrim is survived by his children Sharvin, Vinesh, Navin, Gavin and Anjalie; and siblings Chinee, Haro, Leila, Sheila, Kamo and Pamela.

Medical authorities say Swine Flu is a respiratory disease caused by influenza virus in pigs, and can be transmitted to humans. Symptoms of the flu in humans are similar to most influenza infections, such as fever, coughing, fatigue and headache.

By Navendra Seoraj


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