Swine flu death toll continues to climb

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pretoria - The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) says South Africa is currently experiencing widespread community transmission of H1N1 pandemic influenza, with the number of deaths having increased to 27.

The NICD said that by Tuesday there were 27 confirmed H1N1 deaths, with 12 of them being pregnant women.

There have been 5 719 laboratory-confirmed cases in the country, with Gauteng recording the highest number of people infected. At least seven people have died from the flu in the province while 1 753 infections have been confirmed.

The NCID said in a statement that the vulnerability of pregnant women remained alarming and of great concern. "Of major concern is the number of fatal cases, particularly in the third trimester of pregnancy and puerperal period," the institute said.

Other co-morbidity identified in fatal cases has included asthma, diabetes, obesity and HIV-positive patients. The majority of illness in persons without co-morbidity remains mild and self-limiting.

It said that those with flu-like symptoms should not wait for tests to confirm whether they had the flu or not.

"Any persons with co-morbidity or pregnant women in the second or third trimester, or in the puerperal period must receive early treatment with antivirals if influenza-like illness is present," it said.