n South African Journal of Child Health - Influenza in children : hot topics




Influenza, caused by influenza A or B virus, produces a spectrum of disease ranging from mild to severe illness. is common; in South Africa, the influenza season usually lasts from April until August. The World Health Organization estimates that 3 - 5 million cases of seasonal influenza occur every year, with around 250 000 - 500 000 deaths. The annual attack rate in developed countries is estimated at between 10% and 20% of adults but is higher in children, with approximately 1 in 3 children infected annually. In South Africa, seasonal influenza is estimated to cause 6 000 - 10 000 deaths every winter.

occurs at regular periods when a circulating influenza strain or strains undergoes genetic reassortment or antigenic shift. This has recently occurred, leading to the current pandemic from influenza A H1N1 virus or swine flu. The causative virus, a novel influenza A H1N1 virus, seems to have originated in pigs; however, spread is predominantly between people. A pandemic has occurred because humans have little or no immunity to the new virus and it is easily transmitted from human to human.


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