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Suspected A/H1N1 flu affects 135 pupils in Zimbabwe

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  • Suspected A/H1N1 flu affects 135 pupils in Zimbabwe


    Suspected A/H1N1 flu affects 135 pupils in Zimbabwe 2009-09-12 16:56:39

    By Li Nuer

    HARARE, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- At least 135 pupils in eastern Zimbabwe district of Nyanga have in the past week been diagnosed with symptoms of a strain of influenza and authorities fear could be the potentially deadly A/H1N1 flu, The Herald reported on Saturday.

    Secretary for Health and Child Welfare Dr Gerald Gwinji was quoted as saying all the children, who displayed symptoms of Influenza Type A, were put on treatment and nasal swab samples had been sent for further testing.

    Of the cases, four have been described as serious and the patients are under close supervision at St Melleray Mission Hospital, while the other 131 were discharged after treatment although they would continue to be monitored.

    The presence of the virus in the body, experts say, is an indication of the potential contraction of either bird flu or A/H1N1 flu. "Most of the cases presented mild symptoms. They have been treated and discharged, save for only four who are detained at a local health institution," Dr Gwinji said.

    He said the samples would be sent to either South Africa or Zambia to determine whether or not A/H1N1 flu or bird flu viruses were present.

    "The South African laboratory is now inundated with its own cases as well as samples from other countries in the region, so we are now considering Zambia, whose laboratories are also World Health Organization pre-qualified to run the tests," Dr Gwinji said.

    He said the country was in the process of capacitating the government laboratory at the University of Zimbabwe to be able to identify the AH1N1 virus though the process required a lot of financial resources.

    He said the source of the potential outbreak could not be easily established. The government, he said, was capacitating private institutions with relevant equipment and drugs for quicker response in the event of an outbreak.

    Private health institutions such as Avenues Clinic, St Anne's, West End and South Medical hospitals have all received supplies from the government to assist patients who have signs of the virus.

    "We have tried to make available some drugs to pharmacies, but their representatives have not yet provided us with names of outlets convenient for members of the public," Dr Gwinji said.

    Asked if there was a possibility that other cases might have slipped government's monitoring, Dr Gwinji said this could have happened because some people could go and get treated at private health institutions.

    Commenting on a A/H1N1 flu vaccine currently on trial in Australia and the United States, he said Zimbabwe might have access to the vaccine through assistance from the World Health Organization.

    "Although the vaccine is still under trials, some wealthy countries such as Japan have already made pre-payments. When the vaccine is finally approved and made available to countries, obviously they will get first priority. However, WHO usually makes payments for huge quantities, which they donate to affected countries if need be, and that is where we stand to benefit," Dr Gwinji said.

    The vaccine has between a 75 and 95 percent chance of protecting people from contracting A/H1N1 flu.

  • #2
    Re: Suspected A/H1N1 flu affects 135 pupils in Zimbabwe

    Zimbabwe - World Health Organization
    By Sandra Nyaira
    18 September 2009

    The World Health Organization has confirmed 12 new cases of the H1N1 or swine flu have developed in Zimbabwe. The United Nations agency, working with the Ministry of Health, said laboratory tests conducted in South Africa confirmed an H1N1 diagnosis in those cases.

    More tests are under way in connection with 300 school children from Nyanga, Manicaland, who were believed to contracted the potentially deadly flu virus.

    Reports last month said children in the eastern city of Mutare showed symptoms suggesting H1N1 infections. Cases were also suspected in a Mashonaland East province school.

    Some 8,000 cases of H1N1 have been confirmed in Africa, causing 46 deaths, the WHO said - most of them in South Africa, where 31 people have died of the disease.

    Dr. Douglas Gwatidzo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, told reporter Sandra Nyaira of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the country, which only recently shook off a cholera epidemic, needs more medical staff to fight swine flu.

    Dr. Joshua Sibanda, a Zimbabwean physician based in Johannesburg, told reporter Brenda Moyo that the signs and symptoms of swine flu are not all that different from those of the common cold, but swine flu is accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting.
    "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
    -Nelson Mandela