Hospitals full as flu season hits

2016-07-21 13:47

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Pietermaritzburg - The lingering symptoms of this season’s influenza coupled with bronchitis and pneumonia have seen an increase in the number of admissions at local hospitals with many still on a waiting list to be admitted.

Although doctors have said the flu this season is not as serious as in previous years, the symptoms are continuing in people for longer than usual.

Some doctors have attributed this to the allegation that some local pharmacists are dispensing antibiotics to patients without a doctor’s prescription.

“I have seen many patients who come in with flu symptoms but they say they have already been on antibiotics issued by a pharmacist, which makes it difficult for us to treat them,” said one of the local general practitioners.

The doctor, who asked not to be named in the newspaper for professional reasons, said no new antibiotics for the flu had been created in the last 10 years.

The general practitioner said people abusing antibiotics make their bodies resistant to the drugs and “that is why the symptoms will linger on”.

“This means that we are giving patients the same medication for 10 years, which will make their bodies immune to the medication sooner or later,” he said.

He added that there is a fear that soon people will be faced with super bugs or super viruses.

“There will be no treatment for these because everyone will be immune to the antibiotics because they are being used so freely now and when it is not warranted,” he said.

Local general practitioner Dr Krish Vather said he would not call this influenza season an epidemic but “it is definitely taking its toll on people”.

“We have been treating people with the flu but since the symptoms are lingering on, it is becoming more complicated with bronchitis and gastroenteritis. This will mean the patient has to be admitted into hospital for at least a week,” Vather said.

Spokesperson for MediClinic Hospital in Pietermaritzburg Reshnee Beekrum said there are almost no beds available with the increase of admissions.

“We are definitely seeing the effects of this year’s flu in our medical wards. More people have been booked in with flu symptoms and other complications such as bronchitis and asthma,” Beekrum said.

She said this season is especially difficult for those who are asthmatic and there was a waiting list for people waiting to be admitted into hospital.

“We have seen an increase in the number of patients admitted with flu symptoms and other complications from as early as in March and April this year,” she said.

Beekrum said the hospital administered the flu vaccine to all staff as soon as it was made available.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said the influenza season is “normal” and in keeping with previous years.

“We have a number of different programmes that monitor the influenza season and we are now in the middle of the flu season with the peak approaching. All seems normal,” said Dr Cheryl Cohen of the NICD.

She advised people experiencing flu symptoms to stay at home and not attend work or school.

“Wash hands regularly and be careful in the way in which you sneeze [by covering your mouth]. People need a lot of rest,” she added.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  flu  |  medical

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