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Swine flu cases climb to six
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Health News of Thursday, 20 August 2009

Source: GNA

Swine flu cases climb to six

Accra, Aug. 20, GNA - Two more new cases of the pandemic influenza H1N1 (swine flu) have been confirmed in the country, bringing the total number of positive cases to six. The Ghana Health Service (GHS) said in its update of the pandemic on Thursday that the new cases were confirmed on Wednesday. "It is worth mentioning that the last four cases have occurred in a cluster (the same household)," the GHS said.

"The four are under treatment and are doing well. They are also co-operating with health staff and we are grateful for their co-operation," it said. The third and fourth cases involving a child and an adult are being treated and managed at home under the close supervision of health professionals and they are said to be doing well.

Dr Kyei Faried, Head of the Disease Control and Prevention Department of the Ghana Health Service, told the Ghana News Agency that the first two patients were treated at the health facility because they were the first cases to be recorded in Ghana, hence the need for the medical personnel to have the experience and also understudy their capacity to handle the cases. He said the patients being treated at home pose no danger to their relatives and the public if only the advice given to them is well taken. A total of 71 specimens, made up of 45 suspected cases and 26 contacts, had so far been investigated at the Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research (NMIMR, National Influenza Centre). The health authorities say the pandemic was still in its early stages of evolution and needed to be monitored closely, whilst the general public and all stakeholders are being urged to support in the management of the situation.

The pandemic influenza H1N1 2009 is caused by a virus that affects the respiratory system and typically spreads through coughs and sneezes or by touching contaminated surfaces. The disease, which may present itself like a common cold with cough, sore throat, fever, catarrh, general weakness, body ache and headache and sometimes vomiting or diarrhoea, may also lead to severe pneumonia with difficulty in breathing, rapid breathing and chest pain. Symptoms can last up to a week and complications of the disease include pneumonia and difficulty in breathing.

The disease is highly transmissible, with majority of cases presented as mild diseases, especially in younger people. As measures to address the situation, GHS has dispatched 50,000 capsules of Tamiflu medication used to treat pandemic influenza H1N1 to all the regions to manage cases that may occur. In addition, NMIMR has ordered laboratory logistics worth GH¢40,000 to enhance laboratory test of identified specimens suspected to be influenza H1N1. Personal protective equipment such as a specially made face mask- N95 that could prevent transmission, gloves and aprons have been dispatched to all health personnel throughout the country for use when handling suspected influenza cases. Regional and district hospitals have also identified isolation wards to receive cases and these have been inspected by regional health directors.

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