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Features of the new pandemic influenza A/H1N1/2009 virus: virology, epidemiology, clinical and public health aspects.

Abstract

As this virus continues to infect new members of the global population, it may eventually become just one of the annual circulating seasonal influenza viruses. Until then, it will be prudent to continue to monitor it closely for any signs of enhanced transmissibility and virulence.

Although early figures suggested that this pandemic virus was causing higher morbidity and mortality than seasonal influenza viruses, subsequent studies have found it to cause milder disease in most cases. Yet, there are some groups with increased risk of serious disease from this new pathogen. The widespread use of antiviral agents, prophylactically and therapeutically, has led to the sporadic emergence of drug resistance, though this is still rare. Nonpharmacological public health interventions for containment and mitigation have been relatively ineffective in limiting the rapid, global spread of this pathogen. Recently, the focus has been on the manufacture and distribution of various specific vaccines against this new virus, and the care of severely ill patients admitted to intensive care.

The emergence of the pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza virus has enabled preexisting pandemic influenza plans to be put into action. This review examines the clinical and public health impact of this new virus.

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