Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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H1N1 Overview

Another name for H1N1 is Swine Flu.

What is swine flu?
A person with swine flu has an infection of the lungs caused by a strain of type A influenza virus called H1N1. This virus was originally referred to as swine flu because laboratory testing showed that many of the genes in this new virus were very similar to influenza viruses that normally occur in pigs. Many influenza viruses that occur in animals do not infect humans, but the H1N1 influenza virus does. The H1N1 virus spreads in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Those with swine flu release the virus into the air on droplets of mucus when they sneeze or cough. The virus enters the lungs of others when they inhale the droplets.

What are the symptoms of swine flu?
Common symptoms of swine flu include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, body aches, fatigue, and headache. Additional symptoms of swine flu may include breathing difficulty, wheezing, joint pains, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

How does the doctor treat swine flu?
Treatment for swine flu includes general supportive care for minor flu symptoms, with the addition of anti-viral medications in cases where the symptoms are severe or when an individual is determined to be at high risk for serious H1N1 infection.

Continue to H1N1 Risk Factors

Last Updated: May 27, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed H1N1 References
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) virus infections - Chicago, Illinois, April-July 2009. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2009 Aug 28;58(33):913-8. [19713879]
  3. Ebell MH, White LL, Casault T. A systematic review of the history and physical examination to diagnose influenza. J Am Board Fam Pract. 2004 Jan-Feb;17(1):1-5. [15014046]
  4., HHS Interagency Public Affairs Group on Influenza Preparedness and Response
  5. Jamieson DJ, Honein MA, Rasmussen SA, Williams JL, Swerdlow DL, Biggerstaff MS, Lindstrom S, Louie JK, Christ CM, Bohm SR, Fonseca VP, Ritger KA, Kuhles DJ, Eggers P, Bruce H, Davidson HA, Lutterloh E, Harris ML, Burke C, Cocoros N, Finelli L, MacFarlane KF, Shu B, Olsen SJ; Novel Influenza A (H1N1) Pregnancy Working Group. H1N1 2009 influenza virus infection during pregnancy in the USA. Lancet. 2009 Aug 8;374(9688):451-8. Epub 2009 Jul 28. [19643469]
  6. Jefferson T, Smith S, Demicheli V, Harnden A, Rivetti A, Di Pietrantonj C. Assessment of the efficacy and effectiveness of influenza vaccines in healthy children: systematic review. Lancet. 2005 Feb 26-Mar 4;365(9461):773-80. [15733718]
  7. Montalto NJ. An office-based approach to influenza: clinical diagnosis and laboratory testing. Am Fam Physician. 2003 Jan 1;67(1):111-8. [12537174]
  8. National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Use of influenza A (H1N1) 2009 monovalent vaccine: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2009. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2009 Aug 28;58(RR-10):1-8. [19713882]
  9. Strategy for Off-Site Rapid Triage(c) (SORT) and Real-time Epidemiological Assessment for Community Health(c) (REACH), Emory University, Principal Investigators: Alexander Isakov, MD, MPH; Arthur Kellermann, MD, MPH, Collaboration with the Emory at Grady Health Literacy Team (Ruth Parker, MD; Kara Jacobson, MPH, CHES; Lorenzo DiFrancesco, MD)
  10. VHA Office of Public Health Surveillance and Research; Influenza Algorithm Work Group
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