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Avontuur Estate Newsletter, August 2009
Monday, August 03,
STATEMENT BY WESTERN CAPE MINISTER
FOR HEALTH, THEUNS BOTHA, AT THE JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE RE THE STATUS
OF THE H1N1 VIRUS IN THE WESTERN CAPE
Firstly, my deepest sympathy
with the family of the University of Stellenbosch who lost their son
last week. We are truly sorry for your loss.
Secondly, I want to assure
the public that Western Cape government is working closely with the
national and provincial departments of Health and Education respectively,
and all stakeholders to monitor the situation. I want to reassure
our public that there is no need to panic. The student who lost his
life did not have an underlying medical condition, or compromised immune
system. His death was unusual, and the overwhelming number of people
who contract the virus, recover fully.
It is important to educate
ourselves and our families on the transmission of the virus, on typical
signs and symptoms, and how the spread can be limited. The media
has an important role to play here.
Children and adults,
who are sick, are advised to stay at home and limit contact with others.
Follow the standard precautions such as regular washing of hands and
WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT PANDEMIC INFLUENZA A (H1N1) OR “SWINE FLU” *
1. What is pandemic H1N1 influenza virus?
The pandemic A (H1N1)
influenza (flu) virus (germ) is a new member of the influenza virus
family. Different influenza viruses cause the annual seasonal (winter)
flu and, every few decades, a global pandemic Influenza virus infects
birds and mammals and is usually species specific. Occasionally viruses
cross over from one species to another.
The pandemic A (H1N1)
virus seems to have originated in pigs; however it is not spreading
in pigs or from pigs to humans but only between human beings. Seasonal
human influenza results in 6000 to 10 000 deaths every winter in South
Africa and between 250 000 - 500 000 deaths globally, mostly in people
over 65 and those with certain chronic medical conditions. In contrast,
during pandemic influenza many of the deaths occur in younger and apparently
healthy individuals. The number of deaths during an influenza pandemic
varies greatly, depending mostly on the virulence of the virus, but
also on factors like crowding, individual health, access to health care,
and preventive measures. For the 1918 flu pandemic estimates of 25 to
40 million deaths worldwide are often quoted. The estimates for excess
deaths worldwide in the 1957 and 1968 pandemics are between one and
2. How does the flu virus spread?
Influenza viruses are very infectious. It is almost impossible to stop influenza viruses, whether seasonal or pandemic, from spreading from person to person mainly through coughing or sneezing by infected people.
Touching surfaces such as counters and doorknobs with influenza viruses on them can also infect people and afterwards their mouth, nose or eyes.
This is why hand-washing
helps. However influenza viruses are very infectious and all precautions
can only decrease, but not eliminate, risk.
3. How can the spread be limited?
You can reduce the risk of getting or spreading influenza by taking standard precautions:
● Wash your hands or clean them with alcohol-based hand rubs frequently, especially after you cough or sneeze and before you eat.
● Cover your nose and mouth with a clean tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue in a rubbish bin immediately after you have used it.
● Alternatively cough and sneeze into your sleeve.
● Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as you could infect yourself that way.
● Limit close (1 to 2 meter) contact with people who are sick with flu
● If you get sick,
stay at home and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
4. Symptoms of an
influenza like illness:
These are the same for
pandemic and seasonal influenza. Typical symptoms include a sudden onset
of high fever, cough, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, body
aches, chills, tiredness, and lack of appetite. Some of those affected
have reported nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
5. What to do if you
or your child has symptoms?
- Children and adults who are sick should stay at home for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer.
- Drink clear fluids (such as water, broth, sports drinks, electrolyte beverages for infants) to keep from being dehydrated.
- Dishes etc. can be cleaned with hot soapy water.
- Throw away tissues and other disposable items used by the sick person in the trash. Wash your hands after touching used tissues and similar waste.
- Have everyone in the household wash hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- A person who is sick should recover in his or her own room as far as possible.
- If someone in your home is sick, as far as possible keep the person away from those who are not sick
- If a household member needs to come into the room keep at least an arms length away (1 to 2 meters) and do not sit on the bed.
6. Take medications
- Take medications for symptom relief as needed for fever and pain such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. These medicines do not need to be taken regularly if your symptoms improve.
- Do not give aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) or products that contain aspirin to children or teenagers 18 years old or younger.
- Children younger than 4 years of age should not be given over-the-counter cold medications without first speaking with a health care provider.
- Should you be prescribed antiviral medication take it as directed (where applicable - see 5 below).
- Continue to cover your cough and wash your hands often (even when taking antiviral medications), to prevent spreading influenza to others.
- Call the clinic/GP if you (or your child) experience any side effects; i.e. nausea, vomiting, rash, or unusual behaviour.
7. When to seek emergency
If your child experiences any of the following:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish or grey skin colour
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough.
In adults, emergency
warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
8. Who should be tested?
Laboratory testing of people with flu like illness is NOT generally recommended, as it is expensive and does not affect the treatment.
Laboratory testing is only recommended for the following patients with the above symptoms and a clinical picture of severe respiratory disease where a positive test will affect patient management.
- Patients with co-morbid disease and at risk for serious complications (see 10 below) and who have the symptoms and signs of severe acute respiratory illness.
- Clusters of cases where a diagnosis of the cause of the outbreak is needed.
- An individual who has died where pandemic influenza A(H1N1) is suspected as the cause of death.
9. What medications
are available to treat H1N1 flu virus infections?
The antiviral drugs oseltamivir
or zanamivir are only recommended for those at risk of complications:
10. Who is at risk
1. Persons (adults or children) with underlying medical conditions and who are receiving regular medical care for chronic pulmonary disease (including asthma) and cardiac disease (excluding hypertension), chronic renal and hepatic diseases, diabetes mellitus and similar metabolic disorders ;
2. Individuals who are immunosuppressed (HIV-infected, on immunosuppressive therapy, etc.);
3. Adults and children who have any condition (e.g., difficulty in understanding, spinal cord injuries, seizure or other neuromuscular disorders) which make it difficult to cough and are at risk of inhaling respiratory secretions;
4. Children and adolescents on aspirin therapy and at risk of Reye’s syndrome if contracting any kind of flu;
5. Residents of nursing homes, and other chronic-care facilities;
6. Pregnant women.
Outbreaks in Institutions
Should a significant
number of learners or students or residents of an institution be affected
by the spread of influenza, an outbreak investigation may be indicated
to quantify the size of the impact and assess the trends to inform decision
making. (Useful site www.eurosurveillance.org)
* The source of most
of this information is from the Revised Health Workers Handbook on Pandemic
Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 “Swine Flu” by the National Institute
for Communicable Diseases, updated on 22 July 2009
Center for Infectious
Diseases ● Faculty of Health Sciences University of Stellenbosch ● www.sun.ac.za
Issued by: Theuns Botha MPP
Cape Minister for Health
Media liaison: Hélène Rossouw
082 771 8834
021 483 4426
Western Cape Ministry of Health
Tel 021 483 4426
Fax 021 483 4143
Mobile 082 771 8834
4 Dorp Street
Travel People News
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Important and Urgent Release - Swine Flu Advisory Statement
Swine flu is making headlines around the world and justifiably so. It is a major health consideration and something we all need to be aware of. It is also an issue that we, as an industry, have a responsibility to be knowledgeable about. Not only will guests and overseas operators be asking us questions, and probably many of you have already had questions, but our organizations and staff are all exposed to some degree to the risk of contracting the illness from a foreigner visiting this continent.
This latter exposure may be one of your greatest concerns. As of yesterday, the two cases reported in the media as suspected cases have tested negative and so we do not have any confirmed cases of swine flu on the African continent yet. This means that the risk of staff in your organization contracting this illness remains very low. Of course visitors from areas that are known to have swine flu cases will continue to arrive and the best defence you can mount will consist of educating yourself on the facts and minimizing risk exposure.