H1N1—also known as Swine Flu

An influenza pandemic is described as an epidemic of an influenza virus that spreads on a worldwide scale and infects a large proportion of the human population. On June 11, 2009, a new strain of H1N1 influenza was declared to be a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). On November 8, 2009, WHO stated that “206 countries and overseas territories/communities have officially reported over 503,536 laboratory confirmed cases of the influenza pandemic H1N1 infection, including 6,250 deaths.” The outbreak was first observed in Mexico. Although only mild symptoms are experienced by the majority of victims, some are at higher risk, such as asthmatics and diabetics; obese people and those with heart disease; children with neuro-developmental conditions and pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems.

The Flu

refers to an illness caused by an influenza virus. Ordinary flu usually occurs during colder weather, and flu-like illnesses in other months are less likely to be caused by influenza virus. Even during the flu season, common symptoms like cough and sore throat may be caused by other infections, too. A person with influenza, however, may also experience the following: early start of symptoms (within few hours); feeling of being very sick and tired; fever may be as high 100° F (37.8° C) rising to 105° F (40.6° C) within 12 to 24 hours; headache, pain on moving the eyes, discomfort in bright light and aching muscles joints. Healthy people usually return to full health after about a week. Flu viruses spread from one host (person or animal) to the next usually in saliva and mucus or in feces.

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