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First Swine Flu Death Recorded in South Africa

Published on Monday 3rd August 2009

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) has confirmed that a 22-year-old Stellenbosch University student has died from the H1N1 pandemic, known as swine flu.

According to a NICD report given to the Department of Health, the deceased presented with flu-like symptoms on 20 July 2009 and was treated symptomatically at the campus clinic.

"He did not improve and consulted a General Practitioner. He left campus on the weekend of 24 July for his parents' home.

"He consulted another doctor who later referred him on 26 July to a Western Cape private hospital for admission and treatment by a specialist, where he was treated as a case of Atypical Pneumonia with antibiotics," the department said in statement on Monday.

However, on 27 July 2009, the boy's condition deteriorated and he was moved to the Intensive Care Unit, where he died on 28 July 2009.

A specimen was collected and tested for H1N1 at a private laboratory. The specimen was also sent to the NICD for further testing, however the NICD confirmed the results today, the department said.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has expressed his condolences to the deceased family noting that the death of a person so young, who was actively building his future career, was unfortunate and deeply regretted.

"We are encouraged by the fact that the majority of cases in South Africa have so far been mild and we hope that this will remain so despite this unfortunate death," Minister Motsoaledi said.

He said any person with chronic heart or lung diseases or who is pregnant were at risk for severe disease, should seek immediate medical attention, especially those in the age group 14 - 30 years, in which most infections appear to occur.

The minister also advised doctors who see individuals with flu-like symptoms to consider H1N1 as part of the differential diagnosis, even when there is no travel history and treat moderate and severe cases or those at high risk, early with anti-viral medication.

"These cases do not need any special treatment, however, where any doubt exists a doctor or health facility should be consulted," Dr Motsoaledi said.

As of 1 August, South Africa had confirmed about 480 cases of swine flu, with Gauteng leading with 365 case, followed by Western Cape with 34 cases, KwaZulu-Natal 29, Eastern Cape 17, both North West and Mpumalanga recorded seven cases, Free State five, Limpopo two, while the Northern Cape recorded one with 13 being unknown.

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