Brace for ‘severe strain of flu’ this winter

FLU-RELATED complications result in the death of between 6 000 to 11 000 South Africans every year. That’s according to Dr Pete Vincent of the Netcare travel clinics. Vincent said that while flu season was only starting, a number of people have already contracted the infectious disease.

He said every flu season is severe, particularly for those who are more at risk.

“The countries within the northern hemisphere, such as the United States, have had a relatively severe 2017/2018 flu season. That is usually an indication that we may also have a bad flu season here in South Africa during our upcoming winter months,” he said.

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“All South Africans who want to protect themselves and their families this upcoming flu season, which is usually considered to run from April through to August, should consider having a flu shot.

“The influenza vaccine is still considered by healthcare authorities the world over, including our National Institute of Communicable Diseases [NICD], to offer individuals and communities the best protection available against influenza. And, for those who are at high risk of developing potentially serious complications such as pneumonia, the vaccine should be mandatory.”

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What’s more Vincent said the combination of flu and exercise can have serious long-term health consequences.

He said the H3N2 influenza virus strain has proved particularly virulent in the United States this year, and he says that this strain has been strongly associated with complications such as pneumonia.

Those most at risk developing serious complications from flu include:

  • Those who are 65 years of age and older;
  • Individuals who have respiratory conditions such as asthma and emphysema;
  • People who may have compromised immune systems such as HIV-positive individuals, or those undergoing radiation or chemotherapy for cancer;
  • Those who have chronic conditions such as heart or kidney failure or diabetes;
  • Women who are in their second or third trimester of pregnancy;
  • Babies and small children

 

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