Colds and flu

26 May 2011

Flu has come early

This year the flu season has come a bit earlier than usual, warns the National Institute for Communicative Diseases (NICD).

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This year the flu season has come a bit earlier than usual, warns the National Institute for Communicative Diseases (NICD).

According to the institute, which monitored the incidence of respiratory diseases through a network of South African doctors, the early onset didn’t necessarily mean that the flu season would be worse than usual. The first cases were reported in the first week of this May and the number rose sharply.

The pandemic Influenza A H1N1 virus (swine flu), which was identified as a new kind of flu a few years ago, was now regarded as an ordinary seasonal flu.

Flu injections, which people have been able to get since early this year, protect against three kinds of seasonal flu, among them swine flu, which is currently most common.

According to the NCID, people recovered by themselves from flu by drinking water and resting. The institute recommended that people in high risk groups were treated with anti-viral medicines (like Tamiflu) as soon as flu was suspected, as well as for people whose flu suddenly became worse.

The flu injections take about 10 to 14 days to work properly but the NCID feared that the flu season would then be at its peak. They still recommended that people in high risk groups were vaccinated. The injection protected against only three flu viruses and not against cold viruses or any other causes of respiratory diseases.

(Reuters, May 2011)

 

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Flu expert

Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

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