H1N1 is a strain of the influenza virus that originally infected pigs. It rarely infected humans. However, in 2009, a variant of H1N1 began to spread infections from pigs to people and eventually from people to people. The situation was alarming enough that the World Health Organization declared the spread of H1N1 flu a pandemic.
Although H1N1 caused a higher-than-usual number of flu cases in 2009, a vaccine that was quickly developed and distributed to help contain the flu outbreak, and by 2010 the pandemic declaration was lifted.
Symptoms of H1N1 Flu
The H1N1 flu virus is still present in the population and is one of the many seasonal flu virus strains that people can contract and spread each year. However, it's no longer more concerning or alarming than the other types of flu virus. The symptoms of H1N1 flu are the same as they are for other types of flu, and they can include fever, sore throat, aches and pains, runny nose and a cough that last about a week.
As with all types of flu, the best defense against H1N1 flu is to get a flu vaccine each year. The flu vaccine protects against H1N1 flu as well as other strains of flu, and it is recommended for most people.
If you develop H1N1 flu, it would be treated similar to other types of flu. This includes resting, getting plenty of fluids and taking medication to help with symptoms. In addition, it’s important to carefully monitor the symptoms and see a doctor if anything changes or worsens with your health status -- if you have difficulty breathing, chest pain, a very high fever, seizures, persistent vomiting or symptoms that seem to be going away but then return and worsen.
SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. Department of Health & Human Services