Swine flu isolated in SA

2011-05-19 12:35

Cape Town - A Johannesburg laboratory has isolated its first case of H1N1 (swine flu) for this season, but has said that it should not result in a high number of fatalities.

"It will probably not be a problem, but I know the whole world was up in arms about swine flu," Toga Laboratories operational lab manager Carlo Vos told News24.

He said that the international panic about swine flu was irrational.

"Swine flu is similar to normal flu with a similar amount of deaths attributed to it, but the media took it out of proportion."

According to Toga Laboratories, the strain is identical to the previous outbreak, but Vos was concerned that it was found so early in the season.

Peak season

"The flu season actually starts in June, normally the second week in June, so this is quite an early pick-up for swine flu or for any flu for that matter. I don't think there's been any flu isolation for any flu in this country," he said.

Between 1997 and 2002, new strains of three different subtypes and five different genotypes of swine flu emerged as causes of influenza among pigs in North America. These caused the major panic related to the disease.

In SA, the peak season for flu is usually late in the year.

"That year when swine flu was so big, actually the peak amount of positives we got was in September," Vos said.

He encouraged South Africans to ensure that they were vaccinated against all strains of flu.

"Get vaccinated, the vaccine that's out now is a trivalent vaccine - one of the strains they vaccinate you against is H1N1."

Vos suggested that the flu strain had travelled from Europe and warned that people who are HIV positive should be vigilant.

"It travels all over you know. Flu season was in the northern hemisphere - some people got swine flu - now it changed over to this so somewhere, someone brought it over from overseas and infected someone.

"If you're HIV positive your immunity obviously isn't that good so it can affect you quite quickly."

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