NICD says pandemic precautions reducing seasonal flu and rabies

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The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) says that the precautions people are practising – such as mask-wearing, sanitising and social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus – have possibly delayed the spread of influenza this year. Sowetan reports that the institute said the peak season for flu is around June, which has come and gone without much activity.

"To date, the influenza season, which occurs mainly during the winter months of May to August, has not started. It's likely the COVID-19 pandemic influenced health-seeking behaviour as well as staffing or routines in sentinel surveillance sites," the NICD said in this month's online magazine.

The report says it is not just South Africa that has seen an interruption in the spread of flu this year. "Globally, influenza activity has been at lower levels than expected and to date, none of the southern hemisphere countries have reported any influenza activity.

Just like the flu, hardly any cases of rabies have been recorded in the country this year. Rabies is a disease transmitted from animals – usually from dogs to humans.

The NICD explained that the virus was transmitted in the saliva of rabid animals and generally enters the body via infiltration of virus-laden saliva from a rabid animal into a wound (for example scratches), or by direct exposure of mucosal surfaces to saliva from an infected animal (for example bites).

This contrasts with the situation in 2019 when, between January and June, eight rabies cases were confirmed from 27 suspected cases.

This year, only eight people have been screened for rabies.


Full Sowetan report


NICD Communicable Diseases communique (June 2020)

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