The Health Ministry has confirmed that a viral infection, Swine Flu, H1N1, caused the death of four students at the Kumasi Academy School.
Out of 19 samples sent to the NOGUCHI Memorial Institute from the Kumasi Academy in the Ashanti Region, 12 tested positive for influenza type A, the Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu has announced.
According to the Minister, reports on further tests were received confirming Influenza type-A H1N1 2009 [Otherwise known as Swine Flu], pandemic strain.
The tests became necessary following what many have called mysterious deaths involving four students of the school in the past week.
Several students are also on admission, whereas the whole student population have been administered with antibiotics as part of a prophylaxis.
Of the 32 cases on admission 27 had signs of fever, headaches, joint and body pains, coughs abnormal chest signs and auscultation.
Acute respiratory infections likely cause of deaths
The Health Minister also suggested that some of the deaths mat have been caused an outbreak of acute respiratory infections.
Based on findings on respiratory samples sent to the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Mr. Agyemang-Manu said there was “an outbreak of an acute respiratory infection with severe presentations and some resulting in death.”
“Fortunately, the outbreaks are so far confined to a small area in Kumasi Academy. It hasn’t spread to the very nearest town where their school is located,” the Minister added.
It should be noted that the outright cause of death of the four students of the school and the hospitalization of 32 has yet to be fully confirmed.
WHO’s notes on influenza
There are three types of seasonal influenza viruses, types A, B, and C, but only influenza type A viruses are known to have caused pandemics.
Placed under the umbrella of seasonal influenza, the World Health Organisation notes that this virus is characterized by a sudden onset of fever, cough, headaches, muscle and joint pain, severe malaise, sore throat and a runny nose.
Most people are said to recover from the fever and other symptoms within a week without requiring medical attention but influenza can cause severe illness or death in people deemed high risk.
Pregnant women, children aged between six to 59 months, the elderly, individuals with specific chronic medical conditions such as HIV/AIDS, asthma, and chronic heart or lung diseases, and health-care workers have the highest risk of contracting the virus, according to WHO.
Vaccination is said to be the most effective way to prevent the disease, even when circulating viruses may not exactly match the vaccine viruses.
It’s an infection caused by a virus. It’s named for a virus that pigs can get. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. In 2009 a strain of swine flu called H1N1 infected many people around the world.
The virus is contagious and can spread from human to human. Symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.
There are antiviral medicines you can take to prevent or treat swine flu. There is a vaccineavailable to protect against swine flu. You can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza by
- Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. You can also use alcohol-based hand cleaners.
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Trying to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Staying home from work or school if you are sick.
End of panic and uncertainty
The discovery of the cause of death brings some relief to parents, especially since there is a vaccine to prevent further infections.
The Ministry of Health has recalled students who were earlier treatement with antibiotics based on suspictions that the deaths were caused by a bacteria and sent home.
So far forty four students have been infected with the virus in the school.