Influenza A/H1N1: swine flu

‘Swine flu’ was the popular name for flu caused by a relatively new type of flu virus responsible for a pandemic in 2009. Today, the term swine flu is no longer used and Influenza A/H1N1 is just a normal type of (seasonal) flu. H1N1 was first identified in Mexico in April 2009 and spread rapidly to from country to country, including the United States. In June 2009, the WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic. In the Netherlands the swine flu caused a small number of deaths. However, mortality due to influenza occurs each winter season, especially in high-risk groups such as the elderly and the chronically ill. In August 2010, the WHO declared the pandemic officially over. It transpires subsequently that pigs and pork barely played a role in the spreading of the swine flu. The incubation period of this type of flu varies from one day to one week.

Influenza A: symptoms

The symptoms of A/H1N1 are the same as normal flu – they’re usually mild and include fever, a runny nose, muscle aches, sore throat and coughing. The flu lasts for about six days after the initial symptoms occur. 

Influenza A: infection and treatment

Influenza A / H1N1 spreads like an ordinary flu. In many cases, it is spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Also, the virus can be transmitted through direct contact and shaking hands. Personal hygiene is therefore important to stop the spreading of Influenza A. Measures that can be taken include frequently washing your hands, using paper tissues and keeping the house clean and ventilated. The flu can be treated with antiviral medicines such as Tamiflu, but this is generally only necessary for particularly vulnerable groups.

Influenza A vaccination

During the pandemic, a vaccine against Influenza A / H1N1 was developed. However, since this pandemic is officially over, it has been decided that this specific vaccination is now only offered to vulnerable groups such as the elderly. The regular annual flu jab should also sufficiently protect you against Influenza A. When you travel to other countries, you won’t need for a specific vaccination against Influenza A.