54 cases of H1N1 influenza flu confirmed in Namibia

• By Erasmus Shalihaxwe

MINISTRY of Health and Social Services Executive Director Ben Nangombe, has confirmed that a total of 54 cases of H1N1 influenza flu have been recorded in the country.

A media statement Nangombe issued on Wednesday, said the ministry received reports of an increasing number of H1N1 confirmed cases with a total of 54 confirmed cases out of 190 suspected cases country-wide. Whereby cases were reported mainly from Otjozondjupa region with 24 out of 37 suspected cases, Khomas 24 out of 138 suspected cases and Kavango East 6 out of 15 suspected cases. Of which the cases were reported from July 2022 to date, with some having been investigated for COVID-19 but tested negative.

“H1N1 influenza is a viral acute respiratory infection in humans, often characterised by fever, headache myalgia and other flu-like symptoms. A H1N1 is clinically indistinguishable from other viral respiratory infections and can only be laboratory confirmed. Sporadic seasonal transmission has been encountered globally, including in Namibia,” Nangombe said.

He added that influenza A H1N1 has been reclassified as a seasonal influenza virus after the 2009 pandemic, and the virus has been circulating globally all year round. However, cases peak from the winter season. Thus, it is not an uncommon occurrence for people to fall ill with flu-like symptoms from the particular strain with the change in weather that Namibia is currently experiencing and a rise in cases is expected as well.

“Influenza A H1N1 was previously referred to as ‘Swine flu’ during 2009 as it was of zoonotic origin and was transmitted from pigs to humans, however after the 2009, the pandemic transitioned into an epidemic and transmission evolved to the point where H1N1 is now being transmitted from humans to humans, and therefore it is now reclassified as a seasonal flu and not Swine flu. Namibia experienced a large-scale H1N1 outbreak in 2009-2010, where over 8000 suspected cases were reported out of which 102 cases tested positive and one death was reported,” Nangombe explained.

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