Two suspected cases of swine flu in SA

Two suspected cases of swine flu have been reported in South Africa, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said on Wednesday.

Deputy director Lucille Blumberg said the first, which became known on Monday, was a woman from the Western Cape who travelled extensively in Mexico earlier this month.

She was in contact with the people there while using trains and buses.

The woman was ill with flu-like symptoms on her return to South Africa on April 24, Blumberg said.

A general practitioner who treated the woman last Saturday did consider swine flu as a possible diagnosis.

She was given anti-viral treatment and sent home.

The woman was fine now.

The specimen taken from her was not stored appropriately, which meant a laboratory assessment to confirm the case could not be done.

“[But] she fits the case definitely,” said Blumberg.

The second suspected case which the institute became aware of on Wednesday concerned a woman in Gauteng.

Not much details were known about the woman, although she was known to have returned from Mexico with a flu-like illness.

“She is not particularly ill,” said Blumberg.

Health department director general Thami Mseleku said there were no confirmed cases in South Africa at the moment.

“In addition, the Department of Agriculture has informed us there have been no cases of swine flu in pigs in South Africa or the region.

“The most recent case was reported in Kenya in the 1950s.”

Mseleku said the risk of contracting the illness through eating pork products was very low.

“The highest risk is from imported human cases through international travel ... extra vigilance is needed at ports of entry.”

A thermal image detection system, which should aid identifying anyone possibly infected with swine flu, was already in place at Lanseria airport.

Getting two similar machines at OR Tambo airport up and running was being fast-tracked.

A supply of masks would be available at airports.

However, they would only be handed out by port health services in situations where it was deemed necessary.

Mseleku said preparations to deal with any possible cases of the flu were in place in South Africa.

All hospitals had been given guidelines on how to handle any suspected cases.
South Africa would also assist the region if a neighbouring country should need help with related laboratory work or case treatment.

“We are prepared for any eventuality including treating cases.”

Mseleku said while travel restrictions were not being proposed, “we urge anyone who is ill not to travel either to South Africa or from South Africa”.—Sapa