What you need to know about Swine Flu and Adenovirus | Western Cape Government


What you need to know about Swine Flu and Adenovirus

28 June 2017

The H1N1 virus and Adenoviruses are common viruses, and are also in circulation in South Africa. These are not notifiable diseases therefor we cannot confirm how many cases there are. The Department has received telephonic reports of cases and these are currently being followed up through our health facilities in addressing these and other communicable diseases as appropriate.


The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) announced on the 14th of June that the 2017 influenza (flu) season had officially begun. Among the circulating viruses this season are influenza type A viruses, including the H1N1 subtype.

This virus is spread mainly by droplets when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are close by, causing infection. You can also catch flu by touching a surface or an object that has flu virus on it, including influenza A (H1N1).

To prevent the flu, people should practice good hygiene – keep hands clean, as well as surfaces that are commonly touched. One may also access the flu vaccine from your health care provider. People that are infected should stay at home and try limit contact with other people, cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, discard used tissues in the bin, and wash hands often with soap or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Common symptoms of flu include fever, dry cough, sore throat, headache, fatigue, muscle pain and body aches, cold shivers, and hot sweats. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhoea. Those experiencing symptoms may seek advice from their health care provider.

These are a group of viruses known to cause a wide range of illnesses including: the common cold, sore throat, bronchitis, fever, diarrhoea, pink eye, skin rashes, bladder infections, gastroenteritis, neurologic disease, and pneumonia. Adenoviruses are mostly spread via the same routes as influenza viruses, and in addition may be spread through an infected person’s stool. The symptoms of adenoviral infection are similar to flu symptoms, and are generally less severe. The prevention and control measures are also the same as those described for influenza above.


Protection against adenoviruses, swine flu and other respiratory illnesses includes:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home when you are sick

In the event someone should contract either swine flu or adenovirus there is appropriate medication available. 

Every year during the winter months between May and August, South Africa experiences an increase in influenza (commonly known as flu) circulation. The swine flu behaves just like any other normal seasonal flu strain and clinical presentation, severity and management is the same as for seasonal flu.

People at increased risk of developing severe influenza include pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and people with certain health conditions, such as heart, lung or kidney disease, nervous system disorders, or a weakened immune system.

Flu vaccine remains the primary means for preventing seasonal flu infection. The 2017 influenza vaccine has been available in South Africa since the middle of April and high risk groups (as identified above) can  accessed it at local clinics and private providers (pharmacies and private practitioners). The Western Cape received just more than 93 000 doses vaccine to administer to the people who are at increased risk and at the middle of June month have utilised 87% through administering 82 937 doses vaccines.

Summarised facts:

  • Swine flu and Adenovirus are common viruses and part of our seasonal flu we get
  • There is no outbreak of swine flu
  • There is no outbreak of Adenovirus
  • We are currently busy with a Vaccination drive and have administered 82 937 doses  flu vaccines to the high risk groups
  • Swine flu and Adenovirus have similar symptoms to that of flu and treatment.
  • Our call to school principals and parents is to familiarise themselves with the information provided. There is no need for concern as these viruses are part of the viruses in circulation.