Viral Respiratory Tract Infections

As many will have noticed, there are lots of viral respiratory tract infections circulating around the Island at the moment. The main viruses currently circulating are Influenza A, Influenza B and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). These all tend to cause stuffed or runny noses, sore throats, a dry cough, headaches and generalised muscle aches, sometimes with fevers. Sore or red eyes can also be associated with these viral infections.

What you can do if you’ve got an infection

There is no specific treatment for any of these viruses. However, you can take Paracetamol or Ibuprofen for the headaches and fever as well as simple cough linctus for the cough.

All of these are available in the shops and there is no need to come to Jamestown Hospital to see a nurse or doctor with these symptoms. It is actually best to stay away from crowded places if you do have these symptoms as you risk passing the infection on to others, and especially so from the Hospital given you might pass your infection on to unwell people or medical staff.

How long you’re likely to be unwell for

The sore throat, headache and generalised muscle aches take about two to five days to settle. Unfortunately the cough can persist for up to six to eight weeks after everything else has settled, which is why some people have referred to recent viral infection as the ‘100 day flu’. This is normal and again there is no specific treatment needed as long as you feel otherwise well.

If your cough starts producing a lot of yellow or green sputum and you start to feel unwell with shortness of breath, chest pains and persistent fevers, it maybe that you have a super-added bacterial infection. In these cases you should present to the Hospital as you may need antibiotics.

Why are there so many viruses circulating at the moment?

It is normal for these viruses to circulate in the winter time when people tend to spend more time indoors and are in closer contact with family and friends, as this makes it easier for the viruses to spread from person to person.

Things feel worse this year because there have been a lot less viruses circulating around for the last three years due to the Covid-19 restrictions. Now that these restrictions have been lifted, people are mixing a lot more and planes are coming in regularly again from overseas. When they do this inevitably brings infection from other places with it too.

The good news is that the main Influenza season in South Africa is now starting to come to an end, so it is likely that in the next few weeks we will start to see a decrease in the numbers of infections circulating on the Island as well.

#StHelena #ViralInfections


27 July 2023

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470