Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu: What Does H1N1 Mean?

As controversy swirls about using the term "swine flu" for the A H1N1 virus currently sweeping around the globe, the question arises: what the heck does H1N1 mean?

Earlier this week, Israeli deputy health minister, Yakov Litzman, a member of an ultra-religious party, said that the name "swine flu" should not be used as it contains the name of an animal banned by Judaism. Instead he proposed the name "Mexican flu."

You can imagine how that went over with Mexico's ambassador to Israel. Later the statement was retracted and said to be a joke, or a slip of the tongue. Right.

At any rate, the virus is actually a combination of swine, avian, and human flus, which makes pigs far too blame-worthy by calling it swine flu.

At any rate, scientifically the virus is influenza A H1N1. The "H" refers to the hemagglutinin molecule, which is a molecule on the surface of the virus that allows it to key into its target cell.

"N" refers to neuraminidase, which is another molecule, also on the surface of the virus. In this case, it allows the virus, once replicated, to key out of the cell that it’s been "born" in.

There are 16 different types of hemagglutinins and 9 different types of neuraminidases.

H1N1 is the same virus that caused the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed 20 to 40 million people around the globe. This is, of course, a descendent virus.

The fact that the new swine flu has H1N1 molecules doesn't make it identical to the 1918 strain, however. As indicated, it has genes from swine flu, avian flu, and human flu.

There, you now probably know far more about swine flu and its scientific ID than you really want to know. Or perhaps, in this time of outbreak, you want as much info as you can get.
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14 comments:

Chuckdubdubdub said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josiah said...

I think we have to proceed carefully -- over reacting can be dangerous as well. Keeping in touch with WHO and CDC bulletins is also important as are simple precautions outlined here:

www.virusrecovery.net-jay

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fille d'hermite said...

thanks for the 411

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Amanda Crowe said...

H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. Symptoms of swine flu are similar to those caused by other influenza viruses. Health authorities across the globe are taking steps to try to stem the spread of swine flu after outbreaks in Mexico and the United States. The World Health Organization has called it a "public health emergency of international concern."

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H1N1 swine news said...

Great and very informational post. Lots of good info on the virus and that it is not really a swine flu and instead a composite of swine, regular and avian flu not naturally known to exist.

The H1N1 virus was actually created by the CDC under the Obama administration. Read this: H1N1 Swine flu and Obama and what you really need to know.

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memory stick said...

Great post and very informative. Lots of good info about the virus and is not really a swine flu, and instead of a combination of avian and swine are not regular course aware of exist..

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