SA could be in for a bad flu season

10 April 2018 - 16:07 By Timeslive
Image: 123RF/damedeeso

South Africa could be in for a bad flu season judging by how badly it had affected countries in the northern hemisphere such as the US.

Dr Pete Vincent of the Netcare travel clinics and Medicross Tokai family medical and dental centre‚ said on Tuesday that the severity of the flu season abroad was “usually an indication that we may also have a bad flu season here in South Africa during our upcoming winter months”.

“If you consider that flu-related complications result in the death of between 6‚000 to 11‚000 South Africans every year‚ and thousands of economically productive hours are lost as a result of the illness‚ we would argue that every flu season is severe‚ particularly for those who are more at risk‚” he said in a statement.

Flu-related complications result in the death of between 6‚000 to 11‚000 South Africans every year
Dr Pete Vincent

Vincent said the H3N2 influenza virus strain had proved to be particularly virulent in the US this year and the particular strain had been strongly associated with complications such as pneumonia.

“Bacterial pneumonia can be very dangerous for anyone‚ but is particularly so for high-risk individuals‚ such as the elderly‚ babies‚ small children‚ pregnant women and anyone else with a compromised immune system‚” he said.

Vincent said a flu vaccine was regarded by healthcare authorities and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) as one of the best ways to protect oneself against influenza. This was especially the case for people at high risk of developing complications such as pneumonia.

People at high risk of developing complications from flu include:

  • Those aged 65 and older; individuals with respiratory conditions such as asthma or emphysema;
  • Those with compromised immune systems or chronic conditions such as heart‚ kidney failure or diabetes;
  • Women in their second or third trimester of pregnancy; and
  • Babies and small children.

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