Colds and flu

21 August 2009

Eighth swine flu death in SA

An eighth person has died of swine flu in South Africa.

Swine flu in South Africa has claimed its eighth confirmed victim, an Eastern Cape woman, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said on Thursday.

The 38-year-old woman, who was in her third trimester of pregnancy, died at Dora Nginza Hospital in Port Elizabeth, the institute said.

She was also a TB patient on treatment.

Eastern Cape health department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the woman passed away on August 14, hours after being admitted to the hospital.

First case in Gauteng confirmed
Earlier on Thursday, the institute confirmed that the virus was the cause of death of a 21-year-old Pretoria woman, making her the first Gauteng victim, and seventh in the country.

Spokeswoman Nombuso Shabalala said Annique Pretorius died in a Pretoria hospital on Monday after going into respiratory distress.

Swabs taken when she was in hospital were on Wednesday confirmed to contain the H1N1 virus. "Yes, it is the first reported case in Gauteng," Shabalala said and added that Pretorius was first admitted to hospital with tonsillitis on August 8.

After three days she was discharged but returned to the hospital in Pretoria West the same night with a fever that would not break.

Doctors then decided to test for the virus and Pretorius was transferred to Kalafong Hospital.

"She was then put in the intensive care unit where she went into severe respiratory distress and then she unfortunately, after two days, passed away," said Shabalala.

Four had no underlying conditions
The institute said that of the eight confirmed deaths, three had been pregnant. Four had no underlying conditions while one had hypertension and was diabetic.

It said there had been 3 485 laboratory-confirmed cases of swine flu throughout the country, most of which were mild.

Containment of the flu, formally known as H1N1, was not possible given its highly infectious nature.

The focus should therefore be on identifying persons at risk for complications, including the elderly, pregnant women and anyone with underlying illness such diabetes, HIV and Aids and chronic lung or chest infections.

’Situation not out of hand’
Members of the public should practice basic hygiene including washing hands regularly and coughing or sneezing into a tissue or sleeve.

Eastern Cape spokesman Kupelo said the total number of cases in the province was now 195, most of them in East London.

Eight cases had been reported in the Transkei, the first to occur in the region.

Apart from woman who died on August 14, and one previous death, all the reported cases had been mild.

"These deaths do not suggest a situation getting out of hand," he said. – (Sapa, August 2009)

Read more:
Swine flu hotline launched
One billion H1N1 vaccine ordered


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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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