KZN Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu calls for calm following confirmation of H1N1 test result in PMB

25 July 2019

We wish to start by sending our condolences to the family of a nine year-old child who passed away on Friday (19 July 2019). After being informed of the sad passing away of the girl, we immediately began an investigation. As part of precautions, and to aid the ongoing investigation process, we took in the child’s two year-old sibling who was also sick, as well as a grandmother who was potentially predisposed because of her age.

While awaiting results of the autopsy, we received laboratory results earlier this afternoon confirming that indeed there is a positive case of H1N1 from a person in Pietermaritzburg. We wish to reiterate at this point that this does Not constitute an “outbreak”, as has been erroneously reported elsewhere.

The pandemic influenza A (H1N1) virus, which appeared for the first time in 2009 causing a global influenza pandemic, is now a seasonal influenza virus that becomes prevalent in winter, and co-circulates with other seasonal viruses. It neither a notifiable nor a reportable disease, and is thus being treated as a normal flu.

Generally, population groups who may be vulnerable to influenza and need vaccination before the influenza season include pregnant women at all stages of pregnancy, HIV-infected individuals; and adults or children under six who might have underlying medical conditions.

As a Department, we are calling on all responsible authorities at the different schools, doctors, as well as members of the community to exercise restraint, because by referring to an outbreak without being absolutely sure, we may begin to create unnecessary panic and alarm.

While we continue to investigate this matter, we are advising parents to be on the look-out for these signs of severe influenza. Those who display worrying signs such as chest pain or shortness of breath are strongly advised to seek medical attention. If any individuals think they or their children may be suffering from an aggressive type of influenza, they must visit the nearest healthcare facility.

The best way to prevent the spread of influenza is for those who are sick to stay at home from school or work. Frequent washing of hands and disposing of tissues away from other people is strongly advised. Bed rest and taking lots of fluid is also recommended.

As a Department, we have issued a notice to health facilities across the province to ensure that they are on the lookout for severe types of influenza, and treat them with urgency. If influenza is treated on time and treated correctly, it need not have any devastating results.

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This page last edited on 25 July, 2019

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