H1N1 Fact Sheet

Public Health Agency of Canada wants to ensure Canadians learn everything they can to protect themselves against the H1N1 Influenza Virus. Here are some quick facts about the virus and how to protect yourself.

Swine influenza

Swine influenza is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by the influenza A virus.

H1N1 flu virus (human swine flu)
Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans. From time to time, human infections do occur, resulting in H1N1 flu virus (human swine flu). H1N1 flu virus (human swine flu) is a respiratory illness that causes symptoms similar to those of the regular human seasonal flu.

Sometimes, humans and animals can pass strains of flu back and forth to one another through direct close contact. When a swine influenza virus does affect a human, there is also a risk that the animal influenza can mutate and then spread directly between humans.

More investigation is needed on how easily the virus spreads between people, but it is believed that it is spread the same way as regular seasonal influenza. Influenza and other respiratory infections are transmitted from person to person when germs enter the nose and/or throat.

Symptoms include fever, fatigue, lack of appetite, coughing, and sore throat. Some people with H1N1 flu virus (human swine flu) have also reported vomiting and diarrhea.

Flu shot
It is unlikely that the seasonal flu shot will provide protection against H1N1 flu virus (human swine flu). The flu shot will protect against the seasonal flu, which is still circulating in Mexico.

Pandemic influenza is defined as a new influenza virus that spreads easily between humans and affects a wide geographic area.  More information is needed to determine how easily this virus spreads.

A vaccine is any preparation intended to produce immunity to a disease by stimulating the production of antibodies. Canada has a plan for a vaccine to be produced domestically if a pandemic occurs, which will take about six months once the virus is identified. Enough pandemic vaccine will be produced to cover all Canadians.

Antivirals are drugs used for the prevention and early treatment of influenza. Two antivirals that appear to be effective  in treating this illness are oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza).