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Flu on the increase after easing of Covid-19 lockdowns

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The World Health Organization said the most common symptoms of influenza are sudden onset of fever, muscle pains and body aches, dry cough, sore throat, runny nose, feeling tired or unwell and headache.

Influenza and other diseases are now re-emerging in new and different ways. Picture: File

DISEASES such as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus and tuberculosis, may have been suppressed during the hard Covid-19 lockdowns worldwide and the wearing of masks.

However, there are reports internationally that those diseases are now re-emerging in new and different ways.

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) said the 2022 influenza season started in week 17 – April 25 – when the influenza detection rate among patients in a pneumonia surveillance breached the epidemic threshold as determined by the Moving Epidemic Method.

The NICD weekly respiratory pathogens surveillance report, based on data collected up to May 28, showed that this year, 192 influenza cases have been detected with “increasing numbers of cases reported the past four weeks”.

Medical head of Sanofi South Africa, Dr Lourens Terblanche, said it appeared to be a general increase in cases of flu both locally and abroad.

“While lockdowns, social distancing, and mask wearing, related to the Covid pandemic, afforded less opportunity for the influenza virus to circulate, the easing of mandatory restrictions may facilitate a surge in flu cases.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Covid-19 and influenza were both infectious respiratory diseases, and shared some similar symptoms. But they are caused by different viruses.

“The most common symptoms of influenza are sudden onset of fever, muscle pains and body aches, dry cough, sore throat, runny nose, feeling tired or unwell and headache.”

For most people, the symptoms commonly resolve without treatment. But complicated influenza infections can cause serious illness and in some cases death.

“Severely ill patients with influenza should be admitted to the hospital. The commonest complication of influenza is pneumonia.”

WHO stated that flu vaccination was the most effective way to prevent disease and reduce the risk of getting severely ill.

Pretoria News

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