Media statement by the Minister of Health: First death of pandemic H1N1 confirmed in SA

Monday, August 3, 2009

In my personal capacity, as well as my capacity as the Minister of Health, I wish to express my sincere condolences to the family of the 22 year old university student whose death was confirmed by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) to be due to Pandemic Influenza (H1N1) 2009, also known as Swine Flu.

The death of a person so young, who was actively building his future career, is indeed unfortunate and deeply regretted.

According to information at our disposal, the deceased presented with flu-like symptoms on 20 July and was treated symptomatically at the Campus clinic. He did not improve and consulted a General Practitioner. He left campus on the weekend of 24 July for his parents' home. He consulted another doctor who later referred him on Sunday, 26 July to a Western Cape private hospital for admission and treatment by a specialist. He was treated as a case of Atypical Pneumonia with antibiotics. On the 27 July 2009, his condition deteriorated and he was moved to the ICU where he died on the 28 July 2009. A specimen was collected and tested for H1N1 at a private laboratory and specimen were also sent to the NICD for further testing. H1N1 was confirmed by the NICD, which is a WHO reference laboratory today.

We are encourage by the fact that the majority of cases in South Africa have so far been mild and we hope that this will remain so despite this unfortunate death.
Any person with chronic heart or lung diseases or who is pregnant are at risk for severe disease and should seek immediate medical attention, especially those in the age group 14 - 30 years, in which most infections appear to occur.

Doctors who see individuals with flu-like symptoms should consider H1N1 as part of the differential diagnosis, even when there is no travel history, and treat moderate and severe cases, or those at high risk, early with anti-viral medication.

These cases do not need any special treatment, however, where any doubt exists a doctor or health facility should be consulted.

Issued by the Ministry of Health

For more information please contact Fidel Hadebe on 012 312-0663 or 079 517-3333.