Photo Credit – CDC PHIL
Two-and-a-half years after its emergence, the virus responsible for the 2009 influenza pandemic continues to go by many names.
The most common nom de flu - embraced by the media and most of the public - has been `swine flu’.
But that not only raised the hackles of hog farmers, it isn’t terribly specific. After all, there are many different swine influenzas out there, and there is always the possibility of another novel swine virus emerging.
Calling it simply H1N1 makes no distinction between it, and the many iterations of seasonal H1N1 which came before it.
While I’ve used `novel H1N1’ often in this blog, and sometimes A/H1N1/09 or even pdmH1N1 – there hasn’t been any clear consensus over what to call the 2009 pandemic virus.
While it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue like `swine flu’ does, it has the decided advantage of being more precise. The scientific community may well embrace this recommended nomenclature, but we’ll have to see if it ever catches on with the media.
The pandemic A(H1N1)2009 virus has become a seasonal influenza virus, continuing to circulate with other seasonal viruses since August 2010 when WHO declared the end of the influenza A(H1N1) 2009 pandemic. However, the nomenclature of this virus has never been standardized resulting in the use of diverse names for the same virus.
In order to minimize confusion and to differentiate the virus from the former seasonal A(H1N1) viruses circulating in humans before the influenza A(H1N1) 2009 pandemic, the advisers to the WHO technical consultation on the composition of influenza vaccines for the southern hemisphere 2012 season, after discussion on 26 September 2011, advise WHO to use the nomenclature below:
This standardization will help to minimize confusion
among scientific community and the general public.