Swine flu more contagious than seasonal influenza
22 May 2009
The strain of swine flu continuing to spread around the world is more contagious than seasonal influenza, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns.
Experts assessing the pandemic potential of the influenza A (H1N1) virus said the severity of illness was comparable with that seen in the 1957 pandemic, but less than the 1918 pandemic.
‘Transmissibility is therefore substantially higher than seasonal flu,’ they wrote in the journal Science (Science 2009, online 11 May).
Dr Alan Hampson (Hon MD), a pandemic flu adviser to the Australian Government, said it was important to keep in perspective that swine flu was still not spreading rapidly outside of the Americas, although it has reached 33 countries. He said the WHO would not necessarily declare a pandemic (phase 6) before calling for vaccine manufacturers to switch from seasonal flu production to production of a swine flu vaccine.
In other developments:
- The death of a pregnant woman in the US from swine flu prompted the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to advise oseltamivir (Tamiflu) treatment for pregnant women with confirmed, probable or suspected influenza A (H1N1) infection. Pregnant women in close contact with a person with confirmed, probable or suspected influenza A (H1N1) infection should be treated with zanamivir (Relenza) or oseltamivir (MMWR 2009; May 15/58(18);497-500).
- In Australia, pharmaceutical company Roche announced that Tamiflu stock had been replenished, and the temporary measure requiring doctors to contact the company for individual scripts no longer applied.
Last Reviewed: 22 May 2009
- 1. Fraser C, Donnelly CA, Cauchemez S, et al. Pandemic potential of a strain of influenza A (H1N1): early findings. Science 2009, online 11 May
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Novel influenza A (H1N1) virus infections in three pregnant women - United States, April-May 2009. MMWR 2009; May 15/58(18);497-500