IT’S flu season and, with a number of germs and viruses doing the rounds, local doctors have cautioned against the occurrence of swine flu.
Discovered first in humans less than 10 years ago, swine flu is derived from pigs and was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
When the virus first emerged, swine flu was most common in children five years and older and young adults. This was cause for concern as flu viruses are most commonly more dangerous among children younger than five and the elderly. In present day, however, the risk factors have been minimised to those of any other flu strain.
According to local GP Dr. Lihle Sifanele, swine flu often displays the same symptoms as other flu virus, making the only difference in it the fact that it comes from pigs.
“Since we have vaccines, it is easily treatable so people don’t get any complications. The virus can, however, change its “shape” and develop different strains which will require different vaccines to treat it. This makes it more dangerous than the common flu,” said Sifanele. The best treatment, she said, was prevention and vaccination.
“Stay away from germs [protect yourself], keep your hands sanitised, and get vaccinated. Hand sanitisation is important to stop the spread of the virus. You can get the vaccine seasonally, before winter, when the transmission is about to be at its highest. You can get it from your local clinic or GP,” said Sifanele, adding that treatment included various antiviral medication that treat the human flu, such as tamiflu and relenza.
Incidents have already been reported locally and Yolandi van Reenan recently spent five days at the Hibiscus Private Hospital in Port Shepstone because her five-year-old son had been infected. Van Reenan admits that the flu gave her quite a scare as her son was “very weak with extremely high fevers” and she was very thankful for the kind care they received from Dr Ramouthar and hospital staff.
“Please be sure to get injected for this at your nearest pharmacy as this virus is bad and there are so many children and adults being admitted with this virus” said van Reenan.