Annals of Saudi Medicine
Publication of the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
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REVIEW
Year : 2010  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-10

The first influenza pandemic of the 21st century


1 King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
2 Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Correspondence Address:
Sami Al Hajjar
Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre, PO Box 3354, Riyadh 11211
Saudi Arabia
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DOI: 10.4103/0256-4947.59365

PMID: 20103951



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The 2009 H1N1 influenza virus (formerly known as swine flu) first appeared in Mexico and the United States in March and April 2009 and has swept the globe with unprecedented speed as a result of airline travel. On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization raised its pandemic level to the highest level, Phase 6, indicating widespread community transmission on at least two continents. The 2009 H1N1 virus contains a unique combination of gene segments from human, swine and avian influenza A viruses. Children and young adults appear to be the most affected, perhaps reflecting protection in the elderly owing to exposure to H1N1 strains before 1957. Most clinical disease is relatively mild but complications leading to hospitalization, with the need for intensive care, can occur, especially in very young children, during pregnancy, in morbid obesity, and in those with underlying medical conditions such as chronic lung and cardiac diseases, diabetes, and immunosuppression. Bacterial co-infection has played a significant role in fatal cases. The case of fatality has been estimated at around 0.4%. Mathematical modeling suggests that the effect of novel influenza virus can be reduced by immunization, but the question remains: can we produce enough H1N1 vaccine to beat the pandemic?


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