31st October 2017 – The island of Reunion has been registering an increase in influenza activity since August 2017. The peak of the epidemic was around mid to late September and has been on the decline ever since. Up to week 41, 2017, there were 42 admissions of which 33% tested positive for A(H1N1)pdm09, 44% for Influenza B and 24% A(H3N2)/A non H1N1 unfortunately, 8 influenza related deaths reported since beginning of 2017.
This however has not been registered by WHO as a regional threat as the number of cases has quickly subsided. The Seychelles authorities have been monitoring the situation nonetheless through the exchange of information through the SEGANET Indian Ocean Commission network, and the risk has been assessed as curtailed for Seychelles.
For the past two years, the influenza activity in Seychelles has been at its lowest with no significant number of cases reported and no outbreaks. For the greater part of 2017, few cases of influenza were notified and was significantly below the number of cases expected for the particular time of the year. Sentinel influenza surveillance has been at its minimal due to the few cases but has managed to identify a low circulation of Influenza B in the population. To date there is no influenza associated deaths reported.
Influenza is a viral illness which normally spread by the coughs and sneezes of an infected person. Although unpleasant, flu is rarely life-threatening. You can also catch flu by touching an infected person, for instance, shaking hands or surfaces contaminated by the virus. A person is contagious 1-2 days before getting symptoms and up to 7 days after becoming ill. This means that you can spread the influenza virus before you even know you are infected. Incubation period is from 1 to 4 days. Influenza presents with fever, a temperature of 38 degress celcius or higher and cough with or without other symptoms such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, tiredness, headache, sore throat and chest discomfort. Influenza needs to be distinguished from common cold.
Treatment of Flu is mostly symptomatic.
Individuals with flu should:
- stay at home
- avoid contact with other people where possible
- keep warm and rest
- consume plenty of liquids
- avoid alcohol
- stop smoking
- make an effort to eat even if appetite is low
- take painkillers and anti pyretics to lower temperature. Antibiotics is not recommended unless the person develops secondary bacterial infection. This usually happens in people with depressed immune system such as elderly, very young children or if the person is on medications that lowers immunity.
In view of the now diminished flu activity to below epidemic threshold in Reunion, no particular travel restriction to or from Reunion is indicated. Europe is also entering the influenza season. Anyone travelling in these areas are at increased risk of catching influenza. Therefore, take universal precaution of frequent hand washing, avoiding crowd and poorly ventilated rooms. If you do catch influenza, stay at home and refrain from mixing in crowd to prevent spread. You only need to consult a doctor if the symptoms are severe or you develop breathing difficulties and / or severe chest pain.