Swine flu (H1N1)
"Swine flu" was the popular name for flu caused by a type of flu virus responsible for a global flu outbreak (or pandemic) in 2009-10. It's now just a normal type of seasonal flu and is included in the annual flu vaccine.
Symptoms of flu
Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can include:
- fever (typically 38–40°C) - this tends to be more severe in children
- fatigue/unusual tiredness
- runny nose
- sore throat
- shortness of breath or a cough
- loss of appetite
- aching muscles
- vomiting or diarrhoea
- sensitivity to light
- dry, unproductive cough
The symptoms are similar for children, but they can also get pain in their ear and appear less active.
How to treat flu yourself
To help you get better more quickly:
- rest and sleep
- keep warm
- take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains
- drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration (your pee should be light yellow or clear)
A pharmacist can give treatment advice and recommend flu remedies. Be careful not to use flu remedies if you're taking paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets as it's easy to take more than the recommended dose.
"Swine flu" pandemic 2009-10
The scientific name for the swine flu virus is A/H1N1pdm09. It is sometimes shortened to "H1N1".
The virus was first identified in Mexico in April 2009. It became known as swine flu because it's similar to flu viruses that affect pigs.
It spread rapidly from country to country because it was a new type of flu virus that few young people were immune to.
Overall, the outbreak wasn't as serious as first predicted, largely because many older people were already immune to it. Most cases in Northern Ireland were mild – although serious cases still occurred.
The small number of cases resulting in serious illness and death were mostly in younger adults and children – particularly those with underlying health problems – and pregnant women.
On 10 August 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the pandemic officially over.
"Swine flu" now
The A/H1N1pdm09 virus is now one of the seasonal flu viruses that circulate each winter. If you've had flu in the last few years, there's a chance it was caused by this virus.
As many people now have some level of immunity to the A/H1N1pdm09 virus, it's much less of a concern than in 2009-10.
The symptoms are the same as normal flu – they're usually mild and pass within a week or so. But as with all types of flu, some people – particularly those with other health problems – are at higher risk of serious illness.
The regular flu vaccine will normally protect people at a higher risk of becoming severely ill.
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The information on this page has been adapted from original content from the NHS website.
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