H1N1: coming to a South African home near you, soon

And after a very pleasant holiday, I come back to work to find…85 cases of confirmed pandemic H1N1 in South Africa!

Yes, it is true – at least, as far as the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) Director, Prof Barry Schoub, is concerned: he was featured yesterday on eTV News explaining how it was all going.  And it is “mild” according to him: it looks the same as standard flu, although most cases so far are due to people bringing it into the country, without much community spread…yet

In an article just published by the Independent Online (IOL), Kanina Foss says:

Swine flu cases will probably spike when schools reopen next week. Health officials will monitor schools, but are still advising that mild cases should be treated no differently from seasonal flu.

Only patients with serious symptoms – such as high fever, persistent vomiting, pain in the chest, or shortness of breath – should seek medical assistance. These are symptoms that people would seek medical assistance for anyway, says National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) deputy director Lucille Blumberg.

The number of confirmed swine flu cases in South Africa is 75 [since modified, see above]. Once this number reaches 100, the NICD will stop counting. It will focus instead on severe cases and those at high risk because of compromised immune systems, such as HIV-positive people.  The institute will also monitor schools.  Counting cases was resource intensive, said the NICD on Monday, and served no more purpose than counting cases of seasonal flu. The overwhelming majority of cases worldwide had been mild, and had required no special treatment.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said the spread of the H1N1 virus is inevitable, and the NICD is expecting many more South Africans will be infected. It is unsure how the country’s high HIV prevalence will affect the severity of infections.

“It’s something we need to monitor very carefully,” said Blumberg.

The highest number of confirmed cases are in Gauteng (39), followed by the Eastern Cape (nine), and Western Cape (five).

Oh, and in my other persona, a post on AIDS denialism….

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