Swine flu cases confirmed in City

2011-06-11 00:00

AT least two cases of swine flu, caused by the H1N1 virus, have been reported in Pietermaritzburg with two other cases still being investigated.

Swine flu is a notifiable disease, described as a typical seasonal flu, except that most people do not have any immunity to the H1N1 virus which is why it can swiftly develop into a pandemic.

Its symptoms include fever which is usually high, cough, runny nose or stuffy nose, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue or tiredness. There can be extreme diarrhoea and vomiting, and signs of a more serious swine flu infection might include pneumonia and respiratory failure.

The disease affects people of all ages, but the elderly and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable.

The last outbreak of swine flu in KwaZulu-Natal was in 2009, reportedly killing one man.

H1N1 flu was discovered in Mexico and the United States in March 2009 and spread rapidly across the world. The WHO believes about 18 450 people died from the virus up to August 2010, including many pregnant women and young people. The WHO declared the pandemic over in August, 2010.

Reshnee Beekrum, marketing and client services manager at MediClinic yesterday said they had recently diagnosed a patient with the H1N1 virus, the patient is still in hospital. She said she could not say when the patient was diagnosed as that was information privy to the doctors.

Beekrum said the department of Health had been informed of the diagnosis. “The department was informed immediately after the diagnosis as it is the policy.”

Dean Riley, the marketing manager of St Charles school also said a parent of one of their pupils had been confirmed with swine flu, but has since been released from hospital.

A local doctor also said she was waiting for results of two suspected cases of swine flu.

She expressed her concern that the Health Department had yet to move to proclaim the disease so that the public could protect themselves and those who suspect they might have contracted the disease could seek help.

“It’s a notifiable disease which means that if the symptoms of the disease have been detected, the department is notified so they can publicise this information through the newspapers and I have not seen that.”

She warned that the disease was difficult to treat and could be fatal. “For the elderly and the pregnant people it could be fatal.”

This type of virus requires that people are treated as urgently as possible because “if they fail to get help soon, medication does not work and you have to rely on your immune system to fight off the infection,” she said.

Reuters reports that a novel variant of swine flu has emerged in Asia with a genetic adaptation giving some resistance to Roche’s Tamiflu and GlaxoSmith­Kline Relenza, the two main drugs used to tackle the disease.

Researchers said more than 30% of H1N1 swine flu infection samples from northern Australia, and more than 10% of those in Singapore, collected during the early months of 2011, had mildly reduced sensitivity to the two drugs.

The new variant has also been detected in other parts of Asia-Pacific, according to a report by the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne, published in the journal Eurosurveillance. Although this genetic mutation has been seen before in a small number of seasonal flu and H5N1 bird flu cases, it has not previously been reported in H1N1 swine flu.

Chris Maxin, spokesperson for the Health Department, said they have been issuing notices for people to get vaccinated against swine flu since the beginning of winter.




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