‘Swine flu’ grips midlands

2009-08-04 00:00

AS South Africa records its first death from swine flu — a 22-year-old student at Stellenbosch University — local private schools are on high alert as the H1N1 “swine flu” wave hits the midlands.

Pietermaritzburg has the most KZN cases of the illness — 12 of the 29 cases confirmed so far.

Hilton College has confirmed four cases of the virus among pupils.

Hilton headmaster David Lovatt said a pupil reported to the school’s medical sister early last week with a high temperature and flu-like symptoms.

The school found that during the holidays, he had been in contact with a family member who had contact with a confirmed case of H1NI flu, while on a trip overseas.

The case was confirmed as H1N1 flu last Thursday and, since then, a number of boys have come down with similar symptoms.

Lovatt said boys with especially high temperatures have been isolated and all with H1N1 symptoms have been treated with Tamiflu.

He said all the ill pupils are recovering well and there have been no more cases this week.

Meanwhile, deputy principal at Girls’ High School, Mary-Ann Akerman, denied that there have been two more confirmed cases of swine flu at the school, after a pupil there was the city’s first case.

GHS pupil Dannette Wilson and her boyfriend Jason de Koning, who is studying at DUT, have recovered, Dannette’s grandfather Lionel Wilson said yesterday.

At St John’s DSG, medical sister Belinda Kidgell said their suspected case tested negative.

Public schools contacted by The Witness yesterday reported no ca­ses, which was confirmed by the Education Department.

Meanwhile, the death of Stellenbosch student Ruan Muller (22) of Durbanville was confirmed by the Health Department yesterday.

It said Muller went to the campus clinic on July 20 with flu-like symptoms.

When he did not improve, he went to a general practitioner.

He went to stay at his parents’ home over the weekend, but after consulting another doctor was referred to a private hospital for treatment.

Last Monday, his condition deteriorated and he was moved to the intensive care unit where he died the next day.

“The death of a person so young, who was actively buil­ding his future career, is indeed unfortunate and deeply regretted,” said Health Minister Aaron Motso­aledi in a statement written in his personal capacity.

Since the first case was confirmed on June 19, at least 480 people are known to have been infected in South Africa — the worst hit of 14 countries in Africa — with the highest number in Gauteng, followed by the Western and Eastern Cape.

According to Chris Maxon at the KZN Health Department, the province had 29 cases by the end of last week, with the largest concentration — 12 — in Pietermaritzburg. Durban had 10 cases, with five each in Empangeni and Richards Bay.

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