Influenza outbreak hits Zim

The outbreak began early this year with over 85 000 people having been affected.

A SURGE in influenza cases has gripped Zimbabwe, with health officials reporting a concentration in the Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central provinces.

The outbreak began early this year with over 85 000 people having been affected.

About 3 500 new cases were reported last week.

“3 634 suspected influenza cases and zero deaths were reported this week. The provinces that reported the highest number of suspected influenza cases were Mashonaland East (977) and Mashonaland Central (1 000). The cumulative figures for influenza are 87 483 and 0 deaths,” the Health ministry said.

This influenza outbreak is reminiscent of 2009 when the country was affected by the H1N1 strain.

The initial cases were reported in Manicaland province before spreading to Harare, Mashonaland East and Midlands.

Information minister Jenfan Muswere highlighted the importance of preventive measures during a recent Cabinet briefing.

Medical practitioner Mlungisi Ndebele said the cases were expected to surge as the seasons shift into winter.

“We are expecting a surge in cases as we transition into the winter season. It’s crucial for citizens to prioritise preventative measures now to minimise the impact,” he said.

“Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow. Get adequate sleep and eat a healthy diet to strengthen your immune system.

“If you experience flu-like symptoms, stay [away] from work or school to prevent further transmission."

Influenza is a contagious virus that can spread from human to human.

Symptoms include high fever, aching muscles, headache and respiratory issues.

Particularly vulnerable individuals include young children, the elderly, pregnant women, the obese, and individuals suffering from chronic diseases.

An annual vaccine is available.

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