The influenza season is fast approaching and South Africans need to be prepared, according to Professor Lucille Blumberg who is the Deputy Director at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
We predict that the flu season will start at the second half of May and the beginning of June. Those at risk of the complications of flu need to be vaccinated in time. The vaccine takes two weeks to be effective.— Professor Lucille Blumberg, Deputy Director at the NICD
Blumberg says that there are different strains of flu for South Africans to protect themselves against, but that some individuals are more vulnerable to the complications of flu (such as pneumonia) than others. Here are the people who face the highest risks:
1. Pregnant women
2. The elderly
3. Persons living with HIV
4. Individuals suffering from other chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes
According to Blumberg every flu season is different, and an influenza infection can affect people differently. She says that getting vaccinated for influenza can help in reducing the rate of work absenteeism for employed South Africans.
Frequently Asked Questions, answered by the NCID.
What is influenza?
According to the NCID, influenza is an acute viral respiratory infection, transmitted by the influenza virus. This virus has three main types A, B and C. Influenza A is classified into different subtypes. The currently circulating seasonal viruses are A (H1N1), influenza A (H3N2) and influenza B viruses. The flu viruses are typically in circulation in the winter months in South Africa with an average start of the first week of June, although this varies.
What are the signs and symptoms of influenza?
- Sudden onset of fever
- Acute upper respiratory symptoms: dry cough, sore throat
- General symptoms: malaise, headache, fatigue, muscle pain and body aches , cold shivers and hot sweats
- GIT symptoms: occasionally diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting (more common in children)
For more information on how to prepare for seasonal flu, visit the NCID website.
On CapeTalk and 702's Weekend Breakfast Show, Africa Melane spoke to Professor in Vaccinology, Shabir Madhi. Madhi explained that the most vulnerable people need to be vaccinated as early as possible to allow for enough time for the window period to pass and to let the vaccine become effective.
The vaccination has arrived in South Africa and is now available to the public. Ask your health practitioner for the nearest access point.
Listen to the full conversation on CapeTalk's Breakfast with Kieno Kammies: