File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) says about 91% of influenza-positive samples for this season, detected by three surveillance programmes, had been identified as influenza A(H3N2) – one of the three seasonal influenza viruses prevalent in human populations.

“The South African flu season, which started towards the end of April, is ongoing. Transmission of flu measured using the Viral Watch programme, and impact measured using the pneumonia surveillance programme, have both reached high levels,” the NICD said.

According to the institute, there has been a marked increase in cases of flu, as well as people seeking care for flu-like illness at health-care facilities.

There have been a number of clusters of flu cases at schools, which is not uncommon.

“Most government schools are now on holiday, so we expect to see reduced numbers of school clusters going forward.

“Flu in school-age children rarely causes severe complications unless they have underlying conditions associated with an increased risk of severe illness, such as lung disease or heart disease,” the NICD said.

“If a school-going child has symptoms of flu (sudden onset of cough, fever, body pain with or without other respiratory symptoms), they should remain at home, rest and take plenty of fluids. 

"If danger signs such as chest pain or shortness of breath are noted, or underlying conditions are present, medical attention should be sought,” the NICD said.

A protective antibody response took about two weeks to develop, therefore the vaccine could not prevent infection that may already be incubating during that period.