WINDHOEK – Acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Services Petronella Masabane, yesterday confirmed that there are five laboratory confirmed cases of Influenza A H1N1 (swine flu) in Namibia, but was quick to point out that it is not an outbreak.
“There is no swine flu outbreak in Namibia, but rather an increase in seasonal Influenza A H1N1 cases,” said Masabane in a media statement.
Last Thursday, a six-month-old baby boy was admitted and treated for a flu-like illness and later tested positive for Influenza H1N1 last Friday.
“Thus far five laboratory confirmed cases have been reported,” Masabane said. Four of the cases are from Rehoboth and one from Windhoek.
“They are two females and three males aged between six months and 45 years. Currently four of the cases are admitted in hospitals,” said Masabane.
Previously known as swine flu, Influenza A H1N1 was reclassified as a seasonal influenza virus, the 2009 pandemic, said the permanent secretary.
This has been circulating globally in the last decade, all year round, however, cases peak during the winter season.
“This means that it is expected that there will be people getting ill with flu from this particular strain,” said Masabane.
The symptoms include fever above 38 degree Celsius, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, watery red eyes, body aches, headache, fatigue, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
H1N1 is transmitted through coughing and sneezing (air droplets) or direct contact with surfaces contaminated with infected air droplets.
People most at risk include children under the age of five years, elderly people over the age of 65, pregnant women, immunocompromised people such as those with HIV, TB, diabetes and chronic underlying medical conditions, she explained.
Preventative measures include getting vaccinated against Influenza A H1N1. “The seasonal influenza vaccination is the best protection available against flu. The Influenza A H1N1 strain is included in the seasonal flu vaccine which is available in Namibia,” Masabane stated. Furthermore, people should drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and wash hands as often as possible with soap.
“If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread that way,” Masabane advised.
Namibia experienced a large scale Influenza A H1N1 outbreak in 2009 to 2010, where over 8000 cases were reported out of which 102 cases tested positive.