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 has announced.
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, bringing the total number of deaths to eight students.
Officials from the Ghana Health Service had previously ruled meningitis out in the recent deaths and noted that a bacterial infection was likely.
The whole student population have been administered with antibiotics as part of a prophylaxis.
Of the 32 cases on admission 27 had signs of fever, headaches, joint and body pains, coughs abnormal chest signs and auscultation.
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.
It should be noted that the outright cause of death of the four students of the school and the hospitalization of 32 has yet to be fully confirmed.
Contradictions over likely cause of deaths
The Health Minister also suggested that some of the deaths may have been caused by an outbreak of acute respiratory infections.
Based on findings on respiratory samples sent to the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Mr. 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.
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.
Speaking to Citi News‘ Caleb Kudah on whether the causes of death at the school had been identified, Prof. Bosompem said: “that I cant say because that is pathology.”
“Some autopsy samples have been collected and are being sent to Nougochi 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 added.
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.
By: Delali Adogla-Bessa/citifmonline.com/Ghana