The 2018 influenza season has started‚ the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has confirmed.
While there have been low levels of influenza circulating since mid-April‚ the number of specimens testing positive for influenza in public health facilities‚ private practitioners and pneumonia surveillance‚ has increased since early May.
The majority 117/118 (99%) of influenza positive samples for this season‚ detected by these three programmes so far‚ have been identified as influenza A(H1N1)pdm09.
This strain was the strain that emerged globally in 2009. The good news is that‚ “In 2018‚ this strain of influenza behaves like a normal strain of seasonal influenza and patients infected with this strain should be treated like any other seasonal influenza case‚” NICD stated. There is no requirement to report or notify individual cases of this strain of influenza‚ it added.
The agency advised that the flu vaccination remains the most effective measure to prevent illness.
The 2018 influenza vaccine has been available in South Africa since the middle of April and it can be accessed at local clinics‚ pharmacies and private practitioners.