This report was sent out on July 1, as cases of H1N1 strain was reported in Cape Town. Hearing that there have been cases of Swine Flu in the Cape has sent residents in eMalahleni into a state of panic.
“There is no need to be alarmed because the institute has been seeing cases since May when the flu season started,” said Dr Sibongile Walaza, medical epidemiologist from the NICD.
Swine Flu is a respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses that infect the respiratory tract of pigs and result in a barking cough, decreased appetite, nasal secretions, and listless behaviour, the virus can be transmitted to humans.
“What’s important to note is that influenza a H1N1, known as swine flu, is now part of our seasonal strain; it was part of it since 2012.”
The 2009 Swine Flu outbreak (pandemic) was due to infection with the H1N1 virus and was first observed in Mexico.
eMalahleni Private Hospital was contacted to see if they have any cases in hospital.
“We have no confirmed cases of Swine Flu and a person must really get up close to a person who is affected or by a droplet of saliva,” said Ms Madeleen Dauth nursing manager at eMalahleni Private Hospital.
Witbank Provincial Hospital was contacted on Monday, July 20 to see if they have any patients with Swine Flu. They reported back that they don’t have any confirmed cases either.
Some of the symptoms of influenza include having a high fever with chills, a cough, a sore throat, a blocked nose, sweating and shivering, muscle aches and pain and fatigue.
People more vulnerable to getting the flu are the elderly, children, pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma, lung disease and heart disease.
Swine flu is transmitted from person to person by inhalation or ingestion of droplets containing virus from people sneezing or coughing; it is not transmitted by eating cooked pork products.
Dr Julie MacLiam the Group Communications Manager from Life Health Care commented about Life Cosmos Hospital.
“From time to time Life Healthcare admits patients across the country with commonly circulating flu strains such as H1N1, coupled with underlying conditions. Over the last six months, four people tested positive for H1N1 at Life Cosmos Hospital which is not unusual during peak flu season,” said MacLiam.
There are several different strains of influenza which may circulate each year. One of these is called influenza A (H1N1). This is the strain which is sometimes referred to as swine flu and caused the 2009 influenza pandemic however; this strain of influenza behaves just like any other normal seasonal influenza strain. Identification of patients with this strain of influenza during the influenza season is treated as we would any other seasonal influenza case and there are no specific public health interventions recommended for this strain.
In the majority of people influenza is an uncomplicated illness lasting three to seven days.
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