It’s ‘normal’ flu, say experts

This year’s flu is persistent and widespread, according to SA health authorities.

This year’s flu is persistent and widespread, according to SA health authorities.

Published May 25, 2024


Durban — Despite an increase in anecdotal accounts of swine flu and Covid-19, the national and KZN health departments and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) says it’s just “normal” flu doing the rounds in South Africa.

This week the Independent on Saturday spoke to residents in Durban and as far afield as Limpopo who said they had been diagnosed with swine flu or Covid-19.

One Durban woman said she had tested positive for Covid-19 twice but did not want her identity revealed.

“According to the NICD, there is no swine flu, but an increase in flu,” said national Department of Health spokesman Foster Mohale. However, he urged people to remain vigilant and present themselves to the nearest healthcare provider if they noticed unusual symptoms.

A quick check with the KZN Health Department also revealed that it was just a persistent strain of flu doing the rounds.

The latest message on the NICD website says the flu season started at the end of April and that the “NICD inpatient pneumonia sentinel surveillance in public hospitals breached the seasonal threshold and remained above the threshold for two consecutive weeks.”

It said that Influenza A(H3N2), A(H1N1)pdm09 and influenza B were common seasonal influenza strains in humans and that those older than 65 and children below two years old were in the high-risk group.

“The majority of people with influenza will present with mild illness, usually resolving within 3-7 days. However, influenza may cause severe illness leading to hospitalisation or possibly death, especially among those who are at risk of severe influenza illness or complications. High-risk groups include pregnant women, individuals living with HIV, those with chronic conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, tuberculosis, heart disease, renal disease and obesity,” the organisation said on its website.

In March, the NICD issued an alert to clinicians and paediatric hospitals/intensive care units that they should anticipate an increase in seasonal paediatric admissions.

“Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) among young children and may cause severe illness in young infants. It is highly contagious with transmission mainly by respiratory droplets and re-infections can occur. The RSV season usually precedes the influenza season with the average onset at the end of February,” it said on its website.

Earlier this week a notice from the Phoenix Community Police Forum (CPF) was shared in WhatsApp chat groups in which it cautioned people to be vigilant.

“The swine flu with Covid-like symptoms is on the rapid increase. Hospitals are inundated with flu and Covid cases,” the message said.

The Phoenix CPF also urged people to use masks, sanitise and to minimise public engagements.

Independent on Saturday