Explore BrainMass

H1N1 flu - causes, prevention, current status.

H1N1 influenza has become a major health concern. This solution details why this virus poses such a threat to public health, and how the virus arose. It also discusses how spread of the virus can be controlled, and the current status of the pandemic.

Solution Preview

H1N1 influenza is a strain of influenza that is new in the human population and is the cause of a current pandemic affecting numerous countries. While the H1N1 virus currently causes a disease that is similar in severity than seasonal influenza, there are fears that it may mutate to a more virulent form, which would be catastrophic in the general population.

The influenza virus genetic material (genome) consists of eight separate pieces of RNA, which are packaged together in each virus particle (virion). The hemaglutinin (HA) protein is exposed on the surface of the virus and is the target for antibodies, so in previously exposed individuals the antibodies bind to this protein and neutralize the ability of the virus to cause an infection.
The different serotypes of HA are termed H1, H2 etc. Similarly, the other surface protein of the virus, called neuraminidase, differs between different isolates, and these are termed N1, N2 etc. Therefore H1N1 flu has the H1 hemaglutinin protein and the N1 neuraminidase protein. As the H1 protein differs markedly from the HA of any influenza that has been in circulation for many years, few individuals have antibodies from previous influenza ...

Solution Summary

This solution gives a detailed description of H1N1 influenza, why it poses an important threat, what can be done to prevent it, and the current status of the pandemic.