Understanding the Influenza A H1N1 2009 Pandemic

Zakariya Al-Muharrmi

Abstract


A new strain of Influenza A virus, with quadruple segment translocation in its RNA, caused an outbreak of human infection in April 2009 in USA and Mexico. It was classified as Influenza A H1N1 2009. The genetic material originates from three different species: human, avian and swine. By June 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) had classified this strain as a pandemic virus, making it the first pandemic in 40 years. Influenza A H1N1 2009 is transmitted by respiratory droplets; the transmissibility of this strain is higher than other influenza strains which made infection control difficult. The majority of cases of H1N1 2009 were mild and self limiting, but some people developed complications and others died. Most laboratory tests are insensitive except the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) which is expensive and labour intensive. The Influenza A H1N1 2009 virus is sensitive to neuraminidase inhibitors (oseltamivir and zanamivir), but some isolates resistant to oseltamivir have been reported. A vaccine against the new pandemic strain was available by mid-September 2009 with very good immunogenicity and safety profile. Surveillance is very important at all stages of any pandemic to detect and monitor the trend of viral infections and to prevent the occurrence of future pandemics. The aim of this review is to understand pandemic influenza viruses, and what strategies can be used for surveillance, mitigation and control.



Keywords


Influenza; Pandemic; Polymerase Chain Reaction; Vaccine; Surveillance.

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Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, PO Box 35, Postal Code 123, Al-Khod, Muscat, Oman

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