Don’t be alarmed by swine flu in Durban schools, says MEC

Picture Thinkstock

Picture Thinkstock

The KwaZulu-Natal health MEC has calmed fears of a swine flu outbreak after three pupils from Clifton College in Durban were booked off sick after they contracted the highly contagious H1N1 virus.

Another school, Ashton International College in Ballito, recorded three cases last month. The virus is considered to be one of this year’s seasonal influenza strains, but the KZN MEC for Health, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, said people with a strong immune system need not worry about getting infected, Northglen News reported.

Dhlomo urged those with compromised immune systems who had not yet received their flu vaccine to ensure they get vaccinated, which will supposedly lead to automatic vaccination against the H1N1 flu strain.

“About two months ago we made a call as the department of health for people to get vaccinated against flu. The vaccine is on offer in South Africa for this season’s flu and includes cover for the H1N1 strain. H1N1 is not a new disease anymore. It’s been around for a number of years. Most of the population has now developed immunity against it,” he said.

Dhlomo said although the majority of flu cases show only mild symptoms, the vaccine is recommended for people in the “high risk” group: pregnant women, people with lung conditions such as asthma, people with haematological and metabolic disorders such as diabetes, HIV-infected people, children below the age of four and people above the age of 65.

“People who fall under these groups should, and must, go for flu vaccination, as H1N1 will be covered,” he said.

Last month a Grade R pupil from Brailsford Primary in Phoenix, KwaZulu-Natal, was diagnosed with the H1N1 virus.

According to her mother, the child had bronchitis prior to being diagnosed with H1N1.

“Doctors diagnosed her with bronchial pneumonia and were concerned about her sore throat. A swab of her throat was conducted and sent for tests, which revealed that she was ill with the H1N1 virus. She was isolated for three days, which is the recommended medical period during which the virus is said to be contagious. She is currently at home and is definitely well on the road to recovery,” the unidentified mother added.

– Caxton News Service


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