Half of South Africans with flu require hospitalisation and other facts about influenza
"Influenza is a serious and too-often risky infection, more so than many people believe."
"Influenza is a serious and too-often risky infection, more so than many people believe." (iStock)

As the colder seasons approach, colds and flu (not counting the current coronavirus) start becoming the norm.

So normal that we tend to forget just how dangerous a 'simple' illness like influenza can become. 

"Influenza is a serious and too-often risky infection, more so than many people believe," says Sanofi Pasteur department head Merilynn Steenkamp.

And while not a complete fail-safe, particularly for the elderly and individuals with weakened immune systems, Steenkamp says Influenza vaccines have been proven to reduce the severity of the flu and its accompanying complications. 

According to the Pharmaceutical company, flu causing viruses evolve in unpredictable ways every year making them that much more contagious and severe.  

Those most vulnerable to influenza, Sanofi Pasteur says, are those already living with a chronic disease such as tuberculosis (TB), diabetes and HIV. 

Other at risk groups include babies and toddlers, pregnant women, people 65 and older, and the morbidly obese. 

Flu facts 

Here are some additional facts about influenza according to the Pharmaceutical company: 

  • There are 4 main viruses (2 types of Influenza A viruses and 2 types of influenza B viruses) that cause seasonal influenza
  • Globally, 3 to 5 million people worldwide contract a severe illness due to influenza each year, and in South Africa, this number stands at 45 000 
  • South Africa’s seasonal influenza usually occurring between May and September
  • Almost 50 percent of affected South Africans require hospitalisation due to influenza
  • Those at higher risk of developing severe and complicated influenza include those living with cardiac, pulmonary, renal, hepatic, neurological, haemoglobin and immunosuppressive disorders
  • Influenza vaccinations are recommended for everyone from the age of 6 months


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