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Swine flu: no cause for panic

At least one person has died and 14 others have been affected by the H1N1 virus in South Africa.

Since the first outbreak of swine flu in 2009, vaccines have become widely available.

JOHANNESBURG - Eyewitness News has uncovered an apparent increase in the number of H1N1 infections in South Africa with at least 14 people affected and one person confirmed to have been killed by the virus also known as swine flu.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi's office moved to assure the public that there's no cause for alarm.

The ministry's spokesperson Joe Maila said there's no need for panic, adding, "There's no outbreak of swine flu in the country."

One person suffering with the H1N1 virus, Jappie Snyders, is currently undergoing treatment in an intensive care unit.

His wife Renel said they did not know it was going around again and said everyone with similar symptoms should be tested for the infection.

According to the Department of Health, swine flu is an airborne disease that spreads in the same way as seasonal flu, through coughing and sneezing. It cannot be caught by eating pork.

Transmission can be avoided by coughing or sneezing into a tissue or hanky; by washing one's hands regularly; and by avoiding crowded areas, especially if people have symptoms of the flu.

It is treatable with antiviral medication, which is largely available in South Africa.

Symptoms can be divided into "mild", "moderate" and "severe". Mild symptoms include a runny or blocked nose, fever, muscular aches and pains, a general feeling of unwellness and coughing.

Moderate symptoms include mild symptoms as well as shortness of breath, chest pain, persistent vomiting and diarrhoea and signs of dehydration.

Severe symptoms include mild and moderate symptoms as well as signs of respiratory distress, blue lips and other parts of the body, and severe drowsiness and loss of consciousness.

People who are suffering from the symptoms should see their doctor

(Additional reporting by BUA News)