Reports of a swine flu outbreak in the George area, with more than 20 people reportedly being treated, have caused much concern amongst Western Cape residents.
Deputy director of communications at the Western Cape health Department, Mark van der Heever, said it is important to note, however, that swine flu is now part of our seasonal strain and If you had flu, it most likely was swine flu.
The illness is characterised by sudden onset of constitutional and respiratory symptoms such as fever, body pains, cough, sore throat, runny nose and headache.
Read: Swine influenza
Flu can cause serious illness in some people, leading to hospitalisation and even death.
People at increased risk of developing severe influenza include pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and people with certain health conditions, such as heart, lung or kidney disease, nervous system disorders, or a weakened immune system.
According to health 24’s resident flu expert Dr Heidi van Deventer, residents should go to the doctor if they have any signs or symptoms of flu; this includes sore and aching joints or muscles, fever, chills, a runny nose and coughing.
There is a test for swine flu, which has to be confirmed in the laboratory for a conclusive diagnosis of swine flu to be made. Furthermore, residents can keep their immune systems strong with supplements, as well as a healthy diet, lifestyle and reduced stress. This might help them to avoid coming down with the flu.
Read: Five things you need to know about the flu vaccine
In the majority of people flu is an uncomplicated illness, lasting 3–7 days. People at increased risk of developing severe influenza include pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and people with certain health conditions, such as heart, lung or kidney disease, nervous system disorders, or a weakened immune system.
Flu vaccination is especially important for these people. South African data indicates that on average approximately 10 000 people die from seasonal flu-related illness every winter.
Symptoms of flu
Causes of flu