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In spring 2009, an outbreak of what was thought to be swine flu occurred in Mexico and was soon confirmed in many other countries. Although this illness was first called swine flu, upon further analysis it was determined that the virus’s genetic makeup was a mixture of swine and avian influenza viruses—a new contagious strain of influenza A virus, known as the H1N1 virus. To more accurately denote its type, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) named it novel influenza A (H1N1) virus. Throughout this course, the pathogen is referred to as the H1N1 virus, and the illness it causes is referred to as the H1N1 flu.
Infection was first reported in humans in Mexico, and federal health officials determined that the virus was contagious and was being transmitted from person to person. In late March and early April 2009, human cases of H1N1 virus infection were identified in California as well as in Texas. Through the spring, the number of reported cases grew each day. The CDC declared a public health emergency in order to mobilize health teams and treatment therapies to needed areas and to initiate containment. The World Health Organization (WHO), which is responsible for maintaining the H1N1 flu case count worldwide, declared this outbreak a global pandemic and advised governments to be prepared for this first 21st-century flu pandemic. By June 2009, all 50 states in the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands had reported novel H1N1 virus cases. There were two distinct patient waves during the 2009–2010 H1N1 pandemic before it officially ended in August 2010. Laboratory testing for H1N1 virus was inaccurate, and the high number of cases coupled with frequent false negatives led U.S. health officials to stop reporting individual cases. Though the mortality rate for H1N1 virus infection was low (<1%), more than 18,000 individuals worldwide died from H1N1 flu during the pandemic, and it is believed that the actual number is significantly higher than that estimate because of a general lack of reporting and inaccurate laboratory testing.
Despite the fact that the H1N1 virus pandemic has ended, H1N1 influenza has become endemic within the United States and around the world. Healthcare professionals and others who may come in contact with infected persons must have basic knowledge and practice competencies that enable them to understand the transmission, symptoms, diagnosis, identification, treatment modalities, and prevention of H1N1 flu in order to help contain an outbreak. This course gives readers essential information regarding the evolution of H1N1 flu so that they can identify potential H1N1 flu cases. This course also describes the virus and its transmission; reviews symptoms that may be exhibited by infected persons; discusses how to screen and protect patients; reviews the methods of case confirmation and outlines how H1N1 flu can be differentiated from other influenzas; reviews treatment, prevention, and control; and describes how readers can protect themselves.
- Discuss key concepts related to the transmission, screening, treatment, and prevention and control of the H1N1 virus.
Terri Rebmann, PhD, RN, CIC, is Associate Director for Curricular Affairs at the Institute for Biosecurity in the Saint Louis University School of Public Health. She has been with the Institute since its inception in July 2000. She is a PhD nurse researcher with a background in infectious disease emergency preparedness. In addition, she is board certified in infection control and epidemiology. Her work experience includes research and clinical practice with HIV/AIDS patients and hospital infection control. In her current position with the Institute for Biosecurity, she is responsible for the Master’s in Biosecurity and Disaster Preparedness Program, including curriculum development, program management, and student advising. Her research areas of focus include health care and public health professional disaster preparedness and surge capacity issues.
- Contact hours will be awarded for up to one (1) year from the date the course is ordered, unless otherwise indicated with an expiration date.
- You must score 75% or higher on the final exam and complete the course evaluation to pass this course and receive a certificate of completion.
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- All persons involved in the planning and development of this course have disclosed no relevant financial relationships or other conflicts of interest related to the course content.