Every year during the winter months between May and August, South Africa experiences an increase in influenza circulation. The 2015 influenza season started in the second week of May.
There are several different strains of influenza which may circulate each year. One of these is influenza A(H1N1) pdm09. This is the strain which is sometimes referred to as swine flu and caused the 2009 influenza pandemic.
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Because influenza is highly contagious, being spread by respiratory droplets (from sneezing and coughing), by touching surfaces that other people have touched and touching other people, it can spread easily, especially in closed communities (like schools, work place and institutions). General preventive precautions such as washing hands, cough hygiene and avoiding contact with people who are ill should also be considered.
Influenza vaccine remains the primary means for preventing seasonal influenza infection. Influenza viruses are always changing. Each year’s influenza vaccine is made to protect against three viruses that are likely to cause disease that year, this is based on data collected from global influenza surveillance.
Influenza vaccine cannot prevent all cases of influenza, but it is the best defence available against the disease.
If you have flu-like symptoms, consult a doctor as soon as you feel unwell. Diagnosis methods may include a physical examination, nose and throat swabs.
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