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Swine Flu FAQ

Answers to your questions about swine flu.

How serious is the public health threat of a swine flu epidemic?

The U.S. government  declared swine flu to be a public health emergency. The World Health Organization considers it a global emergency.

As of June 2010, the WHO still considered the world to be in a flu pandemic. That inevitably will change, probably before the end of winter in the Southern Hemisphere (summer in the Northern Hemisphere). 

As the pandemic winds down, the WHO will declare the world to be in a "post-peak period," meaning that the spread of flu has slowed to a trickle and that new waves of infection are possible but unlikely.  Finally, the WHO will announce the "post-pandemic period," meaning that the pandemic is over and that the 2009 H1N1 virus has become a seasonal flu bug.

Despite more than 12,000 U.S. deaths in relatively young people and many more deaths worldwide, the 2009 H1N1 virus was not as bad as it could have been. The virus never incorporated virulence factors that would have made illness much worse, nor did the virus evolve into a nightmare plague. In fact, the virus remained unchanged throughout the first year of the pandemic.


WebMD senior writer Miranda Hitti contributed to this report.

Reviewed on June 08, 2010

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