Swine flu kills city man

Swine flu is back in the spotlight after a Cape Town man died of complications related to the disease in Joburg.

Swine flu is back in the spotlight after a Cape Town man died of complications related to the disease in Joburg.

Published Jun 15, 2011



Health Writer

A CAPE Town man has died after contracting swine flu during a holiday in Turkey.

His wife, who asked that neither she nor her husband be named, said that at first she had thought that her husband, 58, had “a normal cold”.

The couple had been in Turkey when he fell ill, and he had taken “normal flu medicine”, she said yesterday.

“He was feeling cold, had a bit of a cough and a fever, but we didn’t read too much into it,” she said.

They were on a flight from Istanbul to Joburg on May 18 when his condition worsened: “By the time we landed in Joburg, he was so ill that he couldn’t even stand up. His chest was so tight that he struggled to breathe,” his wife said.

Rushed to a private medical centre in Joburg, he had surgery before being transferred to another hospital.

But while he seemed to be recovering, he developed another infection that complicated his condition and, his immune system seriously weakened, he died.

“His immune system was now just too weak and he succumbed to the infection,” his wife said.

She said that while her husband was being treated at the second hospital, a 27-year-old man had also died of swine flu-related complications. The hospital declined to confirm this or the details of her husband’s condition.

The woman said she wanted to use her tragic experience to warn others that flu symptoms should not be taken lightly.

“Swine flu symptoms are no different from normal flu. People should always be wary, especially if the patient has a fever. Rather play it safe and have the flu checked out by a doctor before it’s too late.”

Her husband’s funeral was this week.

Dr Lucille Bloomberg, the deputy director of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), said South Africa’s flu season was in full swing and swine flu, or H1N1, was “predominant”.

Although she could not provide numbers, Bloomberg said some severe cases of swine flu had been reported this season.

The NICD has previously warned that while most flu-related illness is uncomplicated, some at-risk groups may develop complications.

These include pregnant women, people with chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes and those who are HIV-infected or have other causes of immuno-suppression. People over 65 are particularly at risk.

Earlier this year, the Western Cape Health Department earlier this year ran an intensive flu vaccination campaign at clinics and hospitals around the province.

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