REHOBOTH, 29 JUN – There is no outbreak of swine flu in Namibia, but rather an increase in seasonal Influenza H1N1 virus, the Ministry of Health and Social Services said on Thursday.
A statement released by the ministry’s acting Permanent Secretary, Petronella Masabane said five cases of swine flu have been reported, the first involving a six-month-old boy who was admitted and treated for flu-like illness on 22 June.
He later tested positive for the H1N1 virus.
“Thus far, five laboratory confirmed cases have been confirmed,” the statement said.
Four of the cases are from Rehoboth and one from Windhoek, with the oldest of the patients being 45 years old.
It further said the virus was reclassified as seasonal influenza after the 2009 pandemic.
“The virus has been circulating in the last decade, all year round. However, cases peak during winter, meaning people will get ill from this particular strain.”
The virus is primarily transmitted through coughing and sneezing or direct contact with surfaces contaminated with infected droplets.
People most at risk are children under the age of five years, elderly people over 65 years, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems.
The ministry said the best protection against H1N1 is seasonal flu vaccination.
“The Influenza A H1N1 strain is included in the seasonal flu vaccine which is available in Namibia.”
Other prevention measures include practicing respiratory hygiene by covering the nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing and washing the hands often with soap and water.
Namibia experienced a large scale of the virus in 2009-2010, where over 8 000 cases were reported, of which 102 cases tested positive.