Influenza outbreak worries residents of Tsholotshohttp://www.chronicle.co.zw/inside.aspx? ... 526&cat=10
THE influenza outbreak that has killed one person in Tsholotsho District since the first cases were reported some three weeks ago has caused immense suffering to the people in the area.
The suffering is worsened by the fact that some infected villagers were being turned away from local clinics because of failure to pay to enable them to access medication. While children aged below five receive free treatment from clinics, controlling the spread of the virus may not be possible if some older people do not get medication.
On Monday, Mrs Patience Mpala (22) of Matsiba Line in Ward 22 said she had been sick for a week. Her one-year-old child had also been down with flu for two weeks. She had only managed to get medication for her child because she did not have a R20 fee that is required by the clinics.
“I am coming from the clinic right now, my child and I are ill but I have only managed to acquire drugs for my child because children are treated for free. I do not have the R20 fee that clinics require for an adult to be treated,” said a weary-looking Mrs Mpala.
She said to her, succumbing to the disease was a terrible and painful experience and having to take care of her sick child in her condition was more difficult.
“I feel drained and tired most of the time. As I speak I have a backache and my knees are sore. I spend some of the nights awake because my child would be crying. With my condition I find it difficult to take care of my child,” she said.
“I wish I could get medication so that I can take care of her. It is painful for me to see my child in such a condition,” Mrs Mpala said.
She said her child was vomiting as soon as she ate.
Laboratory tests have confirmed that the flu in Tsholotsho is of the H1N1 of influenza A type. Symptoms of the influenza A flu include severe headaches, general body weakness, vomiting and fevers.
Influenza A is the umbrella term for the group of virulent diseases which include bird flu and swine flu (H1N1). Influenza B is the common flu, which includes mild strains like common colds and flu. Influenza A can cause excessive coughing, sore throat, weakness and can kill its victims. A villager who resided near Mkhubazi Primary School died last week due to the flu.
Infected people are encouraged to eat vegetables and leafy greens to increase their chances of recovery because they reduce the amount of acids in the bloodstream.The worst affected areas include Mbamba, Malanda, Tshitatshawa, Dlamini, Bemba, Magama School, Nhembe and Makhazi.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) is coming to a school in our area to distribute drugs and I hope my sister’s condition will improve,” said Miss Luphahla.
At some point, the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture considered closing down a school in the district after 95 percent on the pupils were reportedly infected with influenza.
Miss Luphahla said her sister, a Grade Five pupil at Hlabathi Primary School, had not been attending lessons for two weeks, which can negatively impact on her performance at school. She said her condition was affecting her studies as she had to stay away from school.
The situation is, however, showing signs of normalising after the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) mobilised resources to contain the outbreak. An official said the district had engaged several NGOs to carry out awareness campaigns in the area and provide drugs.
Plan International, Medecines Sans Frontieres (MSF) and WHO are involved in the response to the disease, said the official.
Infections have decreased over the past few days, an indication that the virus was being contained, he said.
“On Sunday recorded cases of infection dropped from 632 to 247, which happens to be the lowest figure recorded since the swine flu and bird flu outbreak. The most cases were recorded on Thursday with 1 933 being reported,” he said.