Pandemic (H1N1) Influenza

(Swine Flu; Swine Influenza; Human Swine Flu; Global Swine Flu; Pig Flu; Novel H1N1 Flu; New H1N1 Flu; H1N1 Flu; H1N1 Infection; Influenza A (H1N1); Type A (H1N1) Flu)

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As of August 2010, pandemic H1N1 flu is no longer considered a pandemic. This fact sheet provides historical information about pandemic H1N1 flu and will no longer be updated. Please see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for the latest information about H1N1 flu.

Definition

Pandemic H1N1 flu (originally called swine flu) is a respiratory infection. The pandemic H1N1 flu has spread to humans and has reached the level of a pandemic. A pandemic is a worldwide outbreak. The pandemic H1N1 flu can cause mild-to-severe symptoms. If you think that you have this virus, call your doctor (or do as advised by local public health officials).

Causes

There are 2 main types of influenza virus—type A and type B. This strain passes from human to human, so it may spread rapidly. The pandemic H1N1 flu spreads in the same way as the seasonal flu:
  • By breathing in droplets after an infected person coughs or sneezes
  • By touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. The virus can survive on surfaces and infect a person for 2-8 hours after being exposed to the surface.
Pandemic H1N1 Virus
3DC00001 105433 1 H1N1
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Risk Factors

The main risk factor for getting the pandemic H1N1 flu is contact with an infected person. Having a chronic health condition (cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, cancer) may increase your risk of a more severe form of the infection. Also, people with physical or mental disabilities may be more at risk because they may not be able to easily communicate their symptoms or may have trouble practicing preventive measures against the pandemic H1N1 flu.People younger than 25 years old are more likely to be affected by the virus. The pandemic H1N1 flu is more likely to affect younger people than the elderly because older people may have developed immunity against the virus. Eating pork or pork products, and drinking tap water are not risk factors for getting the pandemic H1N1 flu. Factors that may increase your chance of complications from the pandemic H1N1 flu include:
  • Age: younger than 2 years and 65 years or older
  • People younger than 19 years old on long-term aspirin
  • Being pregnant
  • Having recently given birth (in the last 2 weeks)
  • Diabetes
  • Weakened immune systems, such as in:
    • People with HIV infection
    • People taking immunosuppressive drugs
  • Disorders that may affect breathing
  • Chronic lung, heart, kidney, liver, nerve, or blood conditions
  • Being in a chronic care facility
  • Obesity

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