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Keywords:

  • H1N1;
  • Immunology;
  • Influenza;
  • Pandemic;
  • Pathogenesis

Abstract

A novel H1N1 virus of swine origin (H1N1v ) is currently spreading in humans, giving rise to the first pandemic in 40 years. The disease is of moderate severity but has notable differences from seasonal influenza. In contrast to seasonal influenza, those over 60 years are relatively spared, a likely consequence of the presence of H1N1v cross-neutralizing antibody in this age group. Most patients appear to have mild influenza-like illness and many of the complications leading to hospitalization and mortality occur in those with underlying disease conditions or pregnancy. Studies in animal models suggest that the novel H1N1v pandemic virus causes a more severe illness and appears to have a greater predilection for the alveolar epithelium than seasonal influenza viruses. As there are as yet little data on the pathogenesis and immunology of H1N1v infection in humans, we have reviewed relevant data from past pandemics, from seasonal influenza and avian influenza H5N1 to highlight key issues pertaining to pathogenesis and immunology.