Colds and flu

29 June 2010

Pregnant SA woman has swine flu

A pregnant Gauteng woman has contracted the H1N1 virus, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said on Monday.

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A pregnant Gauteng woman has contracted the H1N1 virus, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said on Monday.

"...But this is nothing, its not big news and is not unexpected," head of epidemiology Dr Lucille Blumberg told Sapa. "We can even expect to see more cases this flu season."

Blumberg said the public should not expect a pandemic like last year, when 93 people died from the flu in South Africa, as there were a number of different strains.

"There are a number of different strains, and one is just the H1N1... people need to use their opportunity to get vaccinations. But really, this is nothing to make any fuss over."

The woman was in a undisclosed hospital and was in a good condition. "She is just fine, just fine," she said.

Vaccines available at pharmacies

Earlier, the Pharmaceutical Society of SA (PSA) said pharmacies were now able to stock up with a vaccine against the H1N1 strain.

"A limited supply of H1N1 vaccine has been made available through community pharmacies," Lorraine Osman, spokeswoman for the PSA's Community Pharmacy Sector (CPS) said in a statement.

For 2010, the World Health Organisation advised that a vaccine for the influenza A H1N1 strain should be included amongst three contained in seasonal influenza vaccines.

The vaccines are usually made available in the public and private sector. However, this year, due to the low yield of one of the strains of virus, manufacturers were unable to supply vaccines in sufficient quantity. This meant that until now the vaccine was not available through private sector community pharmacies.

However as part of the department of health's recent influenza vaccination campaign, it became possible to obtain additional supplies of the relevant vaccine.

"A limited number of doses has now been made available to community pharmacies."

Not everyone is at risk

CPS president Dr Johann Kruger said not everyone was at risk of contracting this type of flu and therefore not everyone needed to be vaccinated against it.

Those at risk included pregnant women, patients with chronic heart and lung diseases, and people with HIV and Aids.

"Community pharmacies... will therefore make the vaccine available to these high risk patients at a nominal charge." Kruger said concerned people should approach their pharmacist for advice.

"Your pharmacist will help you to evaluate your risk and advise you on whether or not you require vaccination," he said. - (Sapa, June 2010)

 

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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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