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 General Information

What is 2009 H1N1 Flu?
 
 

2009 H1N1 (sometimes called “swine flu”) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. This virus is spreading from person-to-person worldwide, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread. On June 11, 2009, the (WHO) signaled that a pandemic of 2009 H1N1 flu was underway.

 

   Is the 2009 H1N1 virus contagious?
   
 

The 2009 H1N1 virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human.

 

How does 2009 H1N1 virus spread?
 
 

Spread of 2009 H1N1 virus is thought to occur in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something – such as a surface or object – with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

 

How severe is the illness caused by the 2009 H1N1 virus?
 
 

Illness with 2009 H1N1 virus has ranged from mild to severe. While most people who have been sick have recovered without needing medical treatment, hospitalizations and deaths from infection with this virus have occurred.


In seasonal flu, certain people are at “high risk” of serious complications. This includes people 65 years and older, children younger than five years old, pregnant women, and people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions. About 70 percent of people who have been hospitalized with this 2009 H1N1 virus have had one or more medical conditions previously recognized as placing people at “high risk” of serious seasonal flu-related complications. This includes pregnancy, diabetes, heart disease, and asthma and kidney disease.

 

How long can an infected person spread this virus to others?
 
 

People infected with seasonal and 2009 H1N1 flu shed virus and may be able to infect others from 1 day before getting sick to 5 to 7 days after. This can be longer in some people, especially children and people with weakened immune systems and in people infected with the new H1N1 virus.

 

Is there any vaccine available for the 2009 H1N1 virus?
 
 

Influenza vaccines are one of the most effective ways to protect people from contracting illness during influenza epidemics and pandemics.
The pandemic influenza is a new virus, and virtually everyone is susceptible to infection from it. These vaccines will boost immunity against the new influenza, and help ensure public health as the pandemic evolves. Many vaccines are manufactured and are available for use since October 2009.

WHO estimates that around 80 million doses of pandemic vaccine have been distributed and around 65 million people have been vaccinated. Campaigns are using a variety of different vaccines. Although intense monitoring of vaccine safety continues, all data compiled to date indicate that pandemic vaccines match the excellent safety profile of seasonal influenza vaccines.

 

Is there any treatment available?
 
 

There are two approved antiviral drugs for influenza that are available for treatment of 2009 H1N1 flu. These are the neuraminidase inhibitors oseltamivir and zanamivir, more commonly known by their trade names Tamiflu and Relenza.