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A new influenza outbreak?


…As Flu-like illness claims two lives in Leribe

Ntsoaki Motaung

At least two people from the community of Matlameng in Leribe district have tragically died following an outbreak of an unknown influenza-like illness.

The outbreak was reported at Matlameng around July 18, this year and according to The District Medical Officer (DMO) for Leribe, Dr Pusetso Topo, there was a total of 55 cases of people presenting with cough, shortness of breath, fever, and generalized body pain.

“In light of recent developments, we took immediate action to provide risk communication and community engagement to educate residents on preventive measures,” He said.

“Unfortunately, two males aged 70 years and 74 years have died,” he added.

To combat the outbreak and safeguard the community, collaborative efforts were launched, Topo explained.

We need to stay cautious and maintain infection, prevention, and control measures

He indicated that samples were taken and through collaboration with the National Rapid Response Team, National Reference Laboratory, and World Health Organization (WHO) Lesotho, samples were sent to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) for analysis.

He said the findings revealed that the isolated strain was an influenza virus called A H2N3 which is capable of causing severe respiratory distress and death.

Topo also highlighted that there are no more reports to the district about a flu-like illness and indicated that he was grateful for the support from the Ministry of Health, WHO, and the community for working hand in hand.

He further advised the public: “We need to stay cautious and maintain infection, prevention, and control measures.”

“The strain can affect humans, birds, and pigs and could be the predominant strain circulating in the country,” he disclosed.

Amidst the ongoing concerns, Mamolise Falatsa, Public Relations Manager for the Ministry of Health, reassured the public that there were no reports from other areas except for Matlameng.

“Follow-ups will continue with the community of Matlameng to actually confirm that the outbreak has been dealt with,” Falatsa said.

She also underlined that the Ministry’s initiatives remain in place to encourage people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as well as screening.

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