The KwaZulu-Natal Health Department said there was no confirmation yet that 9-year-old Pietermaritzburg girl Giselle Chetty died from swine flu.
Giselle died on Friday, days after contracting the H1N1 virus, said family spokesperson Rachel Soobiah.
However, the Health Department said it was still awaiting the post-mortem results.
Spokesperson Ncumisa Mafunda said: “The department would not like to rush on aspects pertaining to swine flu as post-mortem results are still awaited. There is no confirmation as yet.”
Giselle had just celebrated her birthday when she died. She was buried on Monday.
Her 2-year-old brother is still in hospital, alleged to be suffering from the same virus.
Soobiah told Post newspaper that Giselle was taken to her doctor after exhibiting flu-like symptoms, including a high fever and a cough.
“She was also not eating. The doctor failed to pick up the virus and allegedly treated her for the regular flu. He gave her an injection and flu medication and sent her home.”
Giselle’s health had deteriorated by Friday and, when her dad returned from work, he saw her frothing from the mouth.
Soobiah said he rushed her to the hospital, but she died en-route.
“When they reached Northdale Hospital, the doctor declared her dead,” she said.
Soobiah said the family was reeling from her death.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said the term “swine flu” was incorrect because it referred to a disease in pigs. H1N1 was a normal seasonal influenza strain, which behaved like any other type of influenza.
The H1N1 virus was spread from person to person through infectious droplets from coughing or sneezing that were inhaled or through contaminated hands or surfaces.
“The typical incubation period for influenza is one to four days (average two days). Most people ill with influenza shed the virus from a few days before symptoms begin up to five to seven days after the illness onset,” the NICD said.
According to the Health Department, signs of H1N1 influenza are the same as those of the seasonal flu, which include fever, coughing, headache, muscle and joint pain, sore throat and a runny nose. Some people also experience vomiting and diarrhoea.
“It is critical that influenza H1N1 be considered in any pregnant woman with influenza-like illness (fever, muscle pain and/or dry cough,” the department said.
High-risk groups include pregnant women, people with underlying medical conditions, such as asthma and people with depressed or weak immune systems. Others at risk include those with chronic heart and lung conditions, HIV/Aids and diabetes.
The NICD said the flu vaccine was the most effective method for prevention and control of the virus available.