Be warned … flu season is in full swing across the country

The Department of Health is warning about an increased circulation of influenza, also known as flu, across the country since the beginning of May.

This after the department was notified by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) about the rising cases of influenza.

In a statement, the department said the cases have been steadily increasing since early in April, noting that the NICD has received reports of influenza clusters in schools and workplaces.

According to the department, an increase in cases has been identified in six provinces including KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and North West, where surveillance is conducted.

Influenza is an acute respiratory illness caused by an infection of the respiratory tract with the influenza virus.

“There are two types of influenza viruses that commonly infect humans namely A and B. The flu viruses are typically in circulation before the winter season,” said the department.

“The virus spreads from person to person through inhalation of infected respiratory droplets when people are sneezing, coughing or talking.”

It added that a person can also be infected by touching contaminated objects or surfaces that the flu virus is on, and then touching their mouth, eyes or nose.

People who are infected with influenza can prevent its spread by covering their mouth with a tissue when coughing or cough into the elbow; wearing a mask, washing their hands frequently with soap and water, or cleaning their hands using an alcohol-based sanitizer, or staying at home and keep a distance from others.

“Although a majority of people with influenza will present with mild illness, influenza may cause severe illness, which may require hospitalisation or cause death, especially in individuals who are at risk of getting severe influenza illness or complications.”

The most common symptoms include fever, muscle pains and body aches, dry cough, sore throat, runny nose, feeling tired or unwell, and headache.

These may develop one to four days after infection and last for two to seven days. For the majority of people, the symptoms commonly resolve without any treatment.


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