MOH News

MOH Issues Explanatory Statement on Seasonal Flu
24 October 2015
Further to what the Ministry of Health (MOH) has already explained regarding the seasonal flu, and within the framework of the epidemiological surveillance of communicable diseases that exceed 40 infectious diseases, including seasonal influenza, which usually spreads yearly from October to April, the MOH would like to clarify that the number of recorded cases has risen in the last few weeks, in Saudi Arabia. The same thing has been also observed in some countries in the north such as, United States, in addition to some countries of East and West Africa, as well as East and South Asia.
During the past two weeks, 425 positive cases have been recorded, including 128 cases in Riyadh, 168 cases in Jeddah, and some sporadic cases in the other regions and provinces. This is considered as a significant increase, compared to the last year.
In order to activate epidemiological surveillance role (HESN Program), MOH labs have examined more than 50 thousand samples, compared to 26 thousand samples last year.
The ministry would like to make it clear that no complications occur in most cases of influenza. However, the influenza virus may cause chest infections, failure of the respiratory system, and may lead to death in some cases, especially in high-risk groups such as, children under five, the elderly, pregnant women, and those who have chronic diseases.
The epidemiological statistics for this year showed that the percentage of deaths caused by influenza had fallen significantly, compared to last year; the rate decreased from 6.8% to 1.6%.
The influenza virus is an infectious disease of great morbidity rates, but there is a qualitative treatment for the infected, which can also prevent the occurrence of the disease to the people who are in contact with them. Additionally, there are annual effective vaccines, which protect from the disease complications and reduce the symptoms.
The Ministry advises citizens and residents to receive the seasonal influenza vaccine, which is available in the Ministry's hospitals and health centers, in addition to some private hospitals. The Ministry is seeking to immunize the largest number possible of citizens and residents, especially the groups most susceptible to complications such as: people with chronic diseases, pregnant women, and children from 6 months to 5 years. Currently, there are 1.5 million doses of vaccine available, which can be increased if needed. It has been circulated to all directorates of Health Affairs to follow up with those in contact with confirmed cases; give preventive treatment to those in direct contact with the confirmed cases at high risk of developing complications and follow up with them.
The MOH recently launched a vaccination campaign against seasonal influenza. Last Thursday (October 22), the first activities began in shopping malls and centers. On Sunday (October 25), hospitals and health centers will start vaccination of all target groups.
Ministry of Health is assessing the current situation closely and will take additional actions if needed. On a side note, MOH would like to clarify that naming H1N1 flu as "Swine Flu" is scientifically inaccurate; since this virus has become a kind of human influenza, and is no longer linked to pigs.
In the upcoming period, MOH plans to start re-issuing the Saudi epidemiological bulletin that will contain the statistics of 42 infectious diseases, which the ministry followed up through epidemiological surveillance. A detailed statement will be issued on the matter.

Last Update : 26 October 2015 09:10 AM
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