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Hoax Warning Claims Deadly Swine Flu Epidemic in South Africa

Outline
An Afrikaans language message circulating rapidly via email and social media claims that 65 people have died and 25 women have miscarried in recent months due to an outbreak of a deadly strain of swine flu.

H1N1 - South Africa

© Depositphotos.com/ Nuno André



Brief Analysis
The claims in the message are untrue. The South African health authorities have stated that there is no current swine flu outbreak in South Africa like the one described in the message.  Although there have been recent reported cases of swine flu and at least one person has died, this is within the normal flu statistics for the time of year. The warning is highly misleading and inaccurate and reposting it will help nobody.

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Example
Ek et sopas hierdie BC ontvang!!!!!!!!((Hi almal,  vir die mense wat nie nou net tv gekyk het nie,  daar was n dringende broadcast van VARKGRIEP op.  Hulle se dit is weer volop in die lug en meer gevaarlik en infektieus as vorige kere.  Rondom Suid Afrika het ons in die laaste 3 maande klaar 65 gewone gesonde mense verloor,  25 vrouens het al miskrame gehad as gevolg van die virus en daar is al 12 onder 5 jarige kindertjies dood wat hulle op rekord het.  Hulle se in die laaste week is dokters se spreekkamers vol van siek mense.  Dokters waarsku die mans om hulle vroue en kinders binne die huise te hou omdat dit vrouens en kinders baie erger afekteer as mans en kan permanente skade op vrouens laat.  As jy enige van die simptome het moet jy by jou naaste dokter kom,  en mans as dit jou vrou of kind is wat dit het neem hulle sommer hospitaal toe: naarheid, maagpyn, maag spoelings, duislig, kopsere en pyn in die lyf!!  Die is nie n griep waermee gespeel moet word nie,  daar is nog glad nie medikasie vir kinders onder 5 jaar oud nie!!  hou u kinders maar eers uit die kleuterskool om veilig te wees.  Dankie vir julle tyd en stuur asb aan laat ons ons vrouens en kinders kan gesond hou.   Hulle saai dit more oggend om 11 weer uit op sabc 1,2,3 vir die wat dink dis n klomp bollie

(Rough translation to English via Google Translate)
I just received this!!!!!!!! ((Hi everyone, for those who do not watch TV, there was an urgent broadcast about SWINE FLU on. They say it is  abundant in the air and more dangerous and infectious this time. Around South Africa during the last three months we already lost 65 normal healthy people, 25 women have had miscarriages due to the virus and 12 children under 5 years old have died. In the last week, doctors' surgeries are full of sick people. doctors warn the men to keep their wives and children in the house because women and children worse affected then men and it may cause permanent damage to women. If you experience any of the symptoms go to your nearest doctor , and men if your wife or child get it, take them to hospital: nausea, stomach pain, stomach flushing, duislig, headaches and pain in the body!! The flu waermee to be played, there are no medications for children under 5 years old!! keep your children from the nursery school to be safe first. Thank you for your time and please let us send our wives and children healthy. They show it again tomorrow morning at 11 on SABC 1,2,3 for those who think it's a bunch of dung

Detailed Analysis


According to an urgent-sounding Afrikaans language message that is currently circulating rapidly via email and social media, South Africa is experiencing a deadly outbreak of swine flu that has already taken the lives of 65 people in recent months and caused 25 women to miscarry. The message suggests that a more dangerous and infectious strain of swine flu is currently wide spread in South Africa.  It advises men to keep women and children inside the house because the virus more adversely affects women and children and to visit a doctor or hospital at the first sign of symptoms.  The message also claims the urgent warnings about the supposed outbreak were broadcast via South African news outlets.

However, the claims in the message have no factual basis. There are no credible reports to support the claims that 65 people have died of Swine Flu in South Africa in recent months.

South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has assured citizens there is no current outbreak of the H1N1 virus in the country. Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s office has also stated that there is no outbreak and no need for panic.

There have been recent cases of swine flu diagnosed in South Africa, and, reportedly, at least one death from the virus. However, these statistics are within the normal range of cases reported during flu season.  A July 3, 2013 update on the NCID website notes:

The 2013 annual influenza season is well underway having started at the beginning of May.  To date, the dominant influenza strain in South Africa for the 2013 season is influenza A(H1N1) pdm09 (previously commonly known as ‘swine flu’); this strain first appeared in 2009 and in subsequent years has become one of the influenza strains that circulate every year during the flu season. The clinical presentation, severity and management of influenza A(H1N1) pdm09 is the same as for seasonal flu.

Thus, although H1N1 is currently affecting some people in South Africa, this is as expected for the time of year. There is certainly no major outbreak or epidemic as suggested in this bogus warning message. And South African news media has not broadcast urgent warnings about such an outbreak.

Sending on overblown, inaccurate nonsense such as contained in the above warning message will serve only to raise unnecessary fear and alarm. For accurate and current information about H1N1 in South Africa, refer to the NCID website.

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Last updated: July 4, 2013
First published: July 4, 2013
Reserch: David White, Brett Christensen
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

References
No outbreak of swine flu in SA
Influenza : Frequently Asked Questions
National Institute for Communicable Diseases