Monday, July 27, 2009

South Africa's Blumberg says: "We're early in an outbreak of a very infectious virus”

Blumberg said she discovered the flu had arrived in SA from watching television... “We do a puzzle every day at lunch time and also have special teas.”

“When there’s an outbreak, things are very, very busy and there’s a lot to do. I mean you can prepare for outbreaks and you can have guidelines and things set up, but it’s always different when they happen. There’s a lot of pressure and anxiety...

SHOOT: I'm sure, but I bet those lunches and puzzle sessions help. But it is no wonder there isn't a focus on H1N1 in South Africa. There are plenty of other epidemics like HIV, TB and cholera happening at the same time.
clipped from

Blumberg, who has been thrust into the public eye because of various recent outbreaks, thinks it is “quite funny” that she has developed a public profile.

Her small team is responsible for monitoring and responding to the country’s outbreaks — from the unusual, like the Ebola virus and the new arenavirus, to more common infections such as HIV, TB, cholera and now swine flu.

“We’re in outbreak mode all the time. Outbreaks happen all the time, both big and small ones,” Blumberg told the Sunday Times on Friday.

The last 10 months had been particularly “hectic” because of major national and international outbreaks. In October, the country was hit by the arenavirus. Earlier this year it was measles and cholera outbreaks and a meningitis scare, and now the swine flu pandemic. So far, swine flu has infected more than 150000 people worldwide, including 151 in South Africa. Hundreds of people have died around the world, but no deaths have been reported here.

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