In the 4 months since it was first recognized, the pandemic strain of a novel influenza A (H1N1) virus has spread to all continents and, after documentation of human-to-human transmission of the virus in at least three countries in two separate World Health Organization (WHO) regions, the pandemic alert was raised to level 6. The agent responsible for this pandemic, a swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus (S-OIV), is characterized by a unique combination of gene segments that has not previously been identified among human or swine influenza A viruses. As of 31th July 2009, 168 countries and overseas territories/communities have each reported at least one laboratory-confirmed case of pandemic H1N1 infection. There have been a total of 162,380 reported cases and 1154 associated deaths. Influenza epidemics usually take off in autumn, and it is important to prepare for an earlier start this season. Estimates from Europe indicate that 230 millions Europe inhabitants will have clinical signs and symptoms of S-OIV this autumn, and 7-35% of the clinical cases will have a fatal outcome, which means that there will be 160,000-750,000 H1N1-related deaths. A vaccine against H1N1 is expected to be the most effective tool for controlling influenza A (H1N1) infection in terms of reducing morbidity and mortality and limiting diffusion. However, there are several issues with regard to vaccine manufacture and approval, as well as production capacity, that remain unsettled. We searched the literature indexed in PubMed as well as the websites of major international health agencies to obtain the material presented in this update on the current S-OIV pandemic.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine