In April of 2009, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a new strain of the flu virus had been contracted by humans and was spreading fast. It was a strain of Influenza A called H1N1 and was dubbed swine flu. Without a known vaccination, and because of the high rate the virus was spreading, WHO started to prepare for a worldwide pandemic.
Swine flu is not the most accurate name however for this strain of flu. When the first outbreak occurred in Mexico medical researchers found that a component of this particular strain of the virus was also found in pigs. The name unfortunately stuck, though the more accurate title is H1N1 influenza. The name led many people to assume that the virus was contracted and transmitted from pigs to humans, which is also not entirely true.
The first outbreaks of swine flu were reported in Mexico in April of 2009. By June of that year cases of the H1N1 influenza were identified across the globe, and medical practitioners and the WHO declared it officially a pandemic. A pandemic is used to describe a new strain of virus that has caused an epidemic and has become a global health problem.
Swine flu spread across the globe in a matter of weeks, reaching up to 74 countries and affecting some 30,000 people within the first three months of being active. Without a known vaccination or treatment, the risk and fatalities associated with swine flu were high and gathering momentum, as health practitioners had no way of putting a stop to it, i.e. finding a cure.
Fortunately Tamiflu, an anti-viral medication, was found to be effective in treating the symptoms of swine flu, as well as preventing it from spreading. Large preventative measures were put into place around the world, and slowly the pandemic was controlled.
In August 2010, WHO recognised the decrease in the risk of swine flu and officially declared the pandemic over. Doctors and researchers had found a suitable and effective treatment and preventative medication, and had made the world familiar with preventative methods.
Swine flu is still very much active. If you feel as though you are falling ill with flu, it is crucial to recognise the symptoms and ensure it is a regular strain of influenza and not H1N1. Even though WHO have declared the pandemic over, they are still monitoring any infections or cases of swine flu and are very aware that the levels of infection may rise again without warning.
According to recent reports a varied strain of swine flu has been reported in the US, known as H3N2v that is actually transmitted between humans and pigs, however there is no current need for concern.