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MoH cautions vigilance for recent flu illness

By Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU- Following reports of cases of influenza-like illness, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has appealed to the public to be cautious and watchful regarding the recent flu that has spread in many places across the country.

This MoH has said in a statement published last week.

“The Ministry of Health received reports of clusters of influenza-like illness from different districts in the country from August to date. The clusters were reported from different settings such as villages, schools, initiation schools and workplaces.

“The District Rapid Response Team (DRRTs) conducted investigations in the different districts, where they also provide medical treatment to the sick as well as health education to communities,” reads the MoH statement in pertinent part.

This influenza-like illness is reported to manifest signs and symptoms of seasonal flu such as fever, coughing, headache, muscles and joint pain, sore throat and runny nose.

According to the Ministry, during the investigation, a common pathogen, which is a causative agent, was found across the districts as influenza A H3N2. Influenza A H3N2 is a type of a virus that commonly causes seasonal flu during the winter season, which is between April and September.

Most people are said to recover from the flu within a week without requiring medical attention. However, it is warned that sometimes it can cause severe illness or death in certain high-risk groups including pregnant women, children under age of five, people aged 65 and above, people with chronic medical conditions such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes and lung diseases.

This virus is contagious and could be spread through inhalation of infected respiratory droplets when people are sneezing, coughing or talking at close physical proximity without wearing masks. Also, a person can be infected by touching contaminated objects or surfaces that the flu virus is active on and then touch their mouth, eyes or nose.

The MoH also reports that the incubation period, that is the period from exposure to the virus and development symptoms, is between one to four days.

The statement continues, “in terms of treatment, most people will recover without medical treatment within a week. Those at risk of severe disease are advised to seek medical treatment at the nearest health facility early, where medical professional will manage them appropriately according to the clinical presentation”.

The Ministry said the seasonal flu is preventable through vaccination, in particular by people in the high risk groups before the beginning of the flu season.

Generally practicing good hygiene has been recommended as one of the precautionary measures to limit the transmission of this illness.

The other recommended practices include covering the mouth and nose during sneezing or coughing; wearing of face masks, people with signs and symptoms of flu are urged to avoid being in congregated places. 

“The Ministry of Health Will continue with further investigations, surveillance, education and follow-up in areas where clusters have occurred.

“Meanwhile, the public is also made aware that COVID-19 cases continue to occur in different parts of the country,” reads the statement.

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