Gauteng and KZN experience majority of this year’s influenza cases

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The NICD described the RSV as the most common cause of bronchiolitis and lower respiratory tract illness among young children. Photo: Archive
The NICD described the RSV as the most common cause of bronchiolitis and lower respiratory tract illness among young children. Photo: Archive

NEWS


The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reports that Gauteng is experiencing the majority of influenza cases, followed by KwaZulu-Natal.

According to the institute, this year’s influenza season started on April 25 when the detection of cases among patients in pneumonia surveillance breached the epidemic threshold as determined by the Moving Epidemic Method.

The institute’s spokesperson Sinenhlanhla Jimoh said to date there were 298 influenza cases that had been detected.

READ: Flu vaccines in 2022 | What is all the fuss about?

“There have been increasing numbers of cases reported in the past four weeks – 103 were from Gauteng, 54 in KwaZulu-Natal, 53 in Mpumalanga, 48 in Western Cape, 31 in the North West and nine in the Eastern Cape,” she said.

Jimoh said the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) season, which started on February 14 when the detection rate among children aged under five in pneumonia surveillance rose above the seasonal threshold, still continued.

However, the detection rate had been decreasing. The NICD described the RSV as the most common cause of bronchiolitis and lower respiratory tract illness among young children.

According to the institute, before the Covid-19 pandemic, the RSV season in South Africa usually preceded the influenza season with the onset at the end of February to mid-March over the last 10 years.

READ: New Covid-19 data: South Africa has arrived at the recovery stage of the pandemic

However, since the start of the pandemic, with non-pharmaceutical interventions to prevent Covid-19 transmission in place, the RSV circulation has been disrupted, with fewer cases and out-of-season outbreaks reported.

A weekly report by the institute revealed that bronchiolitis was mostly self-limiting with patients presenting with upper respiratory tract illness signs, low-grade fever and wheezing.

The NICD said the majority of infants with the RSV-associated bronchiolitis did not require hospitalisation, but some children were at risk of severe disease or could require supplemental oxygen.

According to the institution, prevention included the isolation of children with influenza-like symptoms and keeping sick children from crèches or schools for a few days. The NICD report read:

The use of prophylactic antibiotics for children with upper respiratory tract infections is not recommended.

“The monoclonal antibody, Palivizumab, administered monthly throughout the RSV season to infants and children at high risk of severe RSV disease, has been shown to be effective for prevention. However, high costs and the need for monthly intramuscular injections throughout the RSV season, limit its use.”

It warned that for the majority of people, flu symptoms were commonly resolved without treatment. However, complicated flu infections could cause serious illness and in some cases be fatal.

Severely ill patients with influenza should be admitted to the hospital.


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