Confused about swine flu? Even the name of
this flu can be puzzling. Usually called swine flu, you'll also hear it called
2009 H1N1 flu and novel influenza A (H1N1). No wonder we're all a little
But swine flu isn't that hard to understand; it's a lot like seasonal flu.
It has similar symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, body
aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. As
a matter of fact, it's hard to tell
swine flu from seasonal flu without a lab test.
Swine Flu Outbreak: Get the Facts
Get the latest swine flu facts and information from WebMD, the CDC and other
public health agencies.
To learn more about this flu, and to find out if pregnant women or people
with chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, neurologic disease, lung
disease, or heart disease should be
particularly concerned, WebMD went to experts in internal medicine and
gerontology for answers about the H1N1 virus.
Is swine flu a particular concern for adults with chronic illnesses?
Yes, says Joseph W. Stubbs, MD, FACP, president of the American College of
Physicians and a doctor of internal medicine. That's because pregnant women and people with
chronic conditions are more susceptible to severe flu, and are also more prone
to flu complications, such as secondary infections and severe pneumonia.
According to the CDC, about two
thirds of H1N1 hospitalizations and deaths have been in people with
Are children with chronic conditions also susceptible to swine flu?
Swine flu, which seems as
contagious as the seasonal flu, is spreading fastest among the young. In the
U.S. and around the world, young people are most severely affected. Unlike
seasonal flu, in which 90% of severe flu cases are in people over age 65, 90%
of severe H1N1 flu cases have been in people under age 65.
Is everyone with a chronic condition at equal risk for swine flu?
"Anything that can affect the health of a person is going to be more of a
concern for people with underlying illnesses," says Aaron E. Glatt, MD,
president and CEO of New Island Hospital in New York, and a professor of
clinical medicine. "People who're at an especially higher risk are those with
underlying heart and lung diseases, or a compromised
Also at greater risk are "people whose immune systems are not well," says
Stubbs, such as those coping with AIDS or
chemotherapy, as well as children under 5. Because children this age haven't
been exposed to as many viruses, "we put them in the same category as those
with chronic illnesses," Stubbs says.
If you're coping with a chronic illness, you "should take the risk of this
flu very seriously," says Glatt.