Influenza type A virus is around! Mask up and stay safe

By Ahmed Kalebi

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It’s influenza season in Nairobi & other parts of Kenya with similar weather changes, and based on information I’ve received from lab colleagues testing swab samples for Covid-19 where the PCR test also detects influenza type A and B plus RSV, the unfolding increase in flu cases is caused by human influenza type A virus, while Coronavirus remains low.

Influenza is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system — your nose, throat and lungs. Influenza is commonly called the flu, but it’s not the same as stomach “flu” viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting.

Past studies have shown that seasonality of influenza A and B in Kenya usually correspond to weather changes, while during the 2-year Coronavirus pandemic flu went down bc of masking & other public health measures but right now Covid-19 is down & seasonal flu is showing an uptick.

Whatever the cause of the ongoing spike in viral respiratory illnesses, and irrespective of whether it’s due to a surge in Flu A with or without rising Covid-19, the protective measures remain the same for all:

✔️Mask up. 😷
✔️Isolate if ill. 🤧
✔️Practise hygiene including hand washing. 🧼
✔️Vaccinate esp. the vulnerable 💉 for both COVID-19 if not vaccinated already and for flu.

Those experiencing flu symptoms should avoid spreading the infection to others (whether Flu A, COVID-19 among others). The ones able to test whether they have COVID-19 can use a self-test kit or go to a lab for testing. Some labs are able to test for multiple viruses in addition to COVID

Dr Ahmed Yakub Kalebi is an OGW, a PhD Researcher at UCT and an Independent Consultant Pathologist.

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