General News of Thursday, 7 December 2017
Some of the deaths at Kumasi Academy can be traced to an outbreak of Acute respiratory infection, the Health Ministry has stated.
Health officials are still yet to fully establish the cause of death of four students, and the hospitalization of 38 others at health facilities in the Ashanti Region.
Based on findings from samples sent to the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, the Health Minister, Kwaku 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.
Contradiction from Noguchi
But comments from the Noguchi Memorial Institute’s Director, Professor Kwabena M. Bosompem, appear to contradict that of the Health Ministry because the research institute is yet to take delivery of autopsy samples from the deceased students.
Responding to Citi News on whether the causes of death at the school had been identified, Prof Bosompem said: “that I can’t say because that is pathology.”
“Some autopsy samples have been collected, and are being sent to Noguchi to start investigations. So unless we investigate that, and know exactly what is the cause of death, it is not good to speculate.” Prof. Bosompem explained.
About Acute respiratory infection
The Acute respiratory infection is an infection that may interfere with normal breathing. It can affect one’s upper respiratory system, which starts at the sinuses and ends at the vocal chords.
It can also affect just one’s lower respiratory system, which starts at the vocal chords and ends at the lungs.
This infection is particularly dangerous for children, older adults, and people with immune system disorders.
Samples from KUMACA test positive for ‘Swine Flu’
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 further revealed.
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.
Four other students had died earlier in 2017.
Officials from the Ghana Health Service had previously ruled meningitis out in the recent deaths and noted that a bacterial infection was likely.
Several students are also on admission, whereas the whole student population have been administered with antibiotics as part of a prophylaxis.
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.