Earth Watch Report – Biological Hazards
Swine flu scare as disease hits KZN
The Health Department has played down fears of a new outbreak of the Novel Influenza A (H1N1) virus – commonly known as swine flu – despite at least 100 cases of it across KwaZulu-Natal.
One woman is thought to have died as a result of the virus after spending several days in isolated care at a Durban hospital.
A well-placed source at the Netcare hospital in Durban, who asked not to be named, said that the woman had tested positive for the H1N1 virus while undergoing treatment for another ailment.
“She contracted the H1N1 strain and sadly she died while she was being treated for it. Her death has been attributed to her underlying pathology but not swine flu, despite testing positive for the virus,” the source said. The woman had cancer.
Netcare spokeswoman Mary Ann Nabbie said that there had been two suspected cases but only one patient had tested positive.
“The one and only patient with confirmed H1N1 unfortunately passed away,” she said. “This patient was, however, severely compromised because of another, pre-existing condition. We follow standard, national and international protocols in this regard.”
Swine flu is an airborne disease that is spread in the same way as seasonal flu, through coughing and sneezing, and has no connection to the consumption of pork products.
According to the flu surveillance report compiled by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, data generated from one clinic in Pietermaritzburg suggests that there have been more than 100 infections at that clinic alone.