How to Handle the H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic

By Laura Lee Bloor

Reviewed by William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

What is a pandemic?

The H1N1 swine flu pandemic is another way of saying the H1N1 virus is a global disease outbreak. Pandemics are difficult to predict because several factors influence how destructive it can be. A flu pandemic's impact depends on

  • the number of cases;

  • the virulence, or strength, of the virus;

  • people's individual immunities;

  • the immunity protection people derived from antibodies acquired through seasonal flu infections;

  • the effectiveness of preventative measures against the influenza virus.

What preparedness plans have been developed for the H1N1 swine flu pandemic?

Millions of doses of flu vaccines have been developed to combat the spread of the H1N1 swine flu pandemic. Some come in the form of a regular flu shot injected subcutaneously and others are the FluMist nasal spray vaccine. Contact your doctor about getting the H1N1 swine flu vaccine.

For those who still contract H1N1 swine flu, the antiviral drugs oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) may be prescribed. These drugs are most effective when taken within 48 hours of the start of H1N1 flu symptoms. Whether these are prescribed for treatment depends on each individual case; not everyone needs antiviral drugs. People can recover from swine flu without Tamiflu or Relenza.

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