Annual winter flu season hits the country

THE annual winter influenza season has started, but so far only a few cases have been reported.

THE annual winter influenza season has started, but so far only a few cases have been reported.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases said they expected the number to rise.

Institute spokesperson Nombuso Shabalala said: "The influenza virus strains identified to date have been mainly the usual seasonal influenza B strain and influenza A (H3N2) and most recently the case of swine flu.

"It is too early to predict what the dominant strain in South Africa will be for this season. Swine flu was the dominant strain in the northern hemisphere during the winter season."

Swine flu has killed more than 18138 people around the world since it was first detected in Mexico in 2008.

By February, South Africa had recorded 12636 cases, including 93 deaths. Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape were the worst affected. Of the 93 that died, 26 were pregnant women and 19 HIV-positive people.

Stocks of the influenza vaccine in SA for this year have been in short supply, particularly in the private sector, but the vaccine is still available from the stock purchased by the National Department of Health.

Anyone with a risk condition can access the vaccine, either through a public facility or through private pharmacies.

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