Flu virus has residents in its grips

Flu woes for Zululanders

HUGE numbers of Zululanders are seeking medical attention for severe coughs and body aches in what doctors are calling a recurring and aggressive strain of the influenza virus.

Empangeni GP, Dr Indiran Pillay confirmed a particularly bad flu virus was making the rounds and noted an increase of patients with severe symptoms.

He said symptoms typically begin with a recurring cough or sneezing, followed by aching muscles, respiratory distress and sudden fever.

‘We use antibiotics to treat it immediately, but in some cases there are complications which lead to more severe illnesses such as pneumonia and even meningitis.’

Pillay encouraged patients to take general preventative measures and to visit a doctor or clinic immediately upon experiencing symptoms.

‘Immune-compromised patients – particularly those with HIV, TB or the elderly, and those with a cardiac history, should make it a priority to be checked by medical professionals and ensure there are no secondary infections,’ said Pillay.

Local pharmacist Shelley Raphael said in her experience of the virus, patients start by experiencing dry and painful chests.

‘This ‘flu affects mainly their throats, they get chest pain and some have bouts of dizziness,’ said Raphael.

She also confirmed that once patients are treated, most come back a few weeks later with the same symptoms.

Both advise having a flu shot, and say that it is not too late in the season to take this precautionary preventative measure.

‘Patients who received the flu shot are still becoming ill, but their symptoms are notably milder,’ said Raphael.

‘I would encourage those who are not yet affected to get vaccinated to help boost their immune system.’



What are we dealing with?
Influenza, or flu, is a respiratory illness caused by a virus.

It is highly contagious and is normally spread by the coughs and sneezes of an infected person.
Although unpleasant, and deadly during the middle ages, modern medicines mean flu itself is rarely life-threatening.
Secondary infections, however, can be extremely serious.
Confusing flu with a bad cold is common.
Flu and cold symptoms may both include a runny/blocked nose, sore throat, and cough.
To help you tell them apart, below are some symptoms of flu that are different from a heavy cold:
• High temperature
• Cold sweats and shivers
• Headache
• Aching joints and limbs
• Fatigue, feeling exhausted
• Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea
Normally symptoms linger for about one week, however, the feeling of tiredness and gloom can continue for several weeks.

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  AUTHOR
Wellington Makwakwa
Journalist

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