Influenza A H1N1 2009 (Swine Flu) and Pregnancy
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The Influenza A H1N1 pandemic (A H1N1) occurred between June 2009 and August 2010. Although the pandemic is now over, the virus has emerged as the predominant strain in the current seasonal influenza phase in the northern hemisphere. The A H1N1 influenza is a novel strain of the influenza A virus and is widely known as swine flu. The virus contains a mixture of genetic material from human, pig and bird flu virus. It is a new variety of flu which people have not had much immunity to. Much has been learnt from the Pandemic of 2009/2010 but the messages about vaccination and treatment seem to be taken slowly by the clinical profession. Most people affected by the virus, including pregnant women, suffer a mild viral illness, and make a full recovery. The median duration of illness is around seven days. This influenza typically affects the younger age group i.e. from the ages of 5–65 years. Current experience shows that the age group experiencing increased morbidity and mortality rates are in those under 65 years of age. Pregnant women, because of their altered immunity and physiological adaptations, are at higher risk of developing pulmonary complications, especially in the second and third trimesters. In the United Kingdom, twelve maternal deaths were reported to be associated with the H1N1 virus during the pandemic and clear avoidable factors were identified (Modder, Review of Maternal Deaths in the UK related to A H1N1 2009 influenza (CMACE). www.cmace.org.uk, 2010). The pregnancy outcomes were also poor for women who were affected by the virus with a fivefold increase in the perinatal mortality rate and threefold increase in the preterm delivery rate (Yates et al. Health Technol Assess 14(34):109–182, 2010). There continues to be a low uptake of the flu vaccine and commencement of antiviral treatment for pregnant women.
KeywordsA H1N1 influenza Swine flu Pregnancy Antiviral drugs Vaccines
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