South Africa warns of flu during world cup

June 26th, 2010 - 7:19 am ICT by IANS  

Johannesburg, June 26 (IANS) South Africa, host to thousands of foreign visitors for the soccer world cup, warned Friday of spread of flu during next couple of weeks.
The country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases said the number of influenza cases are expected to increase in the next two to three weeks during winter, Xinhua reported.

The FIFA World Cup continues until July 11.

The current number of flu cases are “low to moderate”, an official at the institute said in a statement.

The influenza virus strains identified to date in South Africa are mainly the usual seasonal influenza B strain and influenza A.

The official noted that only one case of the H1N1 viral strain, also known as swine-flu, has been isolated so far.

She said this is the strain which caused the flu pandemic in the first half of last year and is the predominant seasonal strain for the northern hemisphere winter.

However, it is not very severe, nor does it show resistance to antiviral drugs. The statement said it is still too early to say which strain would be dominant in South Africa.

“While the vast majority of illness due to influenza is uncomplicated, certain at-risk groups have been identified who may develop complications,” she said.

She warned that pregnant women, people with chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes and those who are HIV-infected or have other causes of immune-suppression, as well as people over 65 are especially at risk.

People in these groups should get vaccinated as soon as possible, she said since the vaccine takes up to 10 days to become effective.

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