E-Cape records 1 death, 88 cases of swine flu

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bhisho - The Eastern Cape Department of Health has recorded the first death related to the H1N1 Influenza virus, or swine flu, and 88 confirmed cases.

Speaking during a media briefing at the Dukumbana Building on Monday, Health MEC Phumulo Masualle said the victim was a 27-year-old pregnant woman from Jansenville, who died within hours of her admission at the Dora Nginza Hospital on 8 August.

The MEC said: "As of the 1 July 2009 to date, the province has a total of 88 confirmed cases."

East London, he said, was the most affected town in the province with 56 cases, followed by Grahamstown with nine swine flu cases.

"In Uitehage, there are six cases, Port Elizabeth 5, St Francis Bay 1, Jeffrey's Bay 1, King William's Town 1, Humansdorp 2, Cradock 1, Queenstown 1, and Jansenville 1 (deceased)," MEC Masualle said.

However, the MEC urged the public not to press panic buttons yet, as most cases were mild. "The majority of these cases have been mild and the reported death in the province should not be cause for panic," the MEC said.

He further reassured the public that everything possible was being done to deal with the outbreak in the province.

"The province has put in place preventative measures which include training of the Outbreak Response Team by the epidemiologists.

"The team is made up of the communications directorate, pharmaceutical services, health promotion services, environmental health services, epidemiological services and communicable diseases directorate," he said.

Officials have also been dispatched to various parts of the province to embark on a massive awareness campaign, the MEC added.

"We have also launched a media awareness campaign on national radio stations, newspapers, community radio stations and community news papers. Posters and pamphlets are being distributed to districts and schools around the province," he said.

The MEC said 440 packs of a special H1N1 flu medicine "Tamiflu" has been purchased and distributed by the department to 10 hospitals in the province. The hospitals are the Nelson Mandela Academic, Livingstone Humansdorp, Midland, Frontier, Alwal North, Madzikane kaZulu , St Patriks and Taylor Bequest.

"This is just for a start, more hospitals will be included as the demand increases," he said.

The MEC cautioned that any person with chronic heart or lung disease, diabetes, HIV and AIDS, or who is pregnant, were at risk for a severe case of the disease and should seek immediate medical attention.

"Especially those in the age group 14-30 years, which is where most infections appear to occur," he advised.

Mr Masualle appealed to learners, students at universities and other institutions that they should be particularly on alert for the development of symptoms. He said if they develop mild flu-like symptoms they should stay at home and only return when they were better.

"They should seek medical attention should they develop any danger signs such as weakness, severe drowsiness, difficulty in breathing, shortness of breath, inability to drink fluids and de-hydration," the MEC said.