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Hot off the breath: the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic may be gone but should not be forgotten
  1. David R Thickett,
  2. Mark Griffiths,
  3. Gavin D Perkins,
  4. Danny F McAuley on behalf of the UK and Ireland Acute Lung Injury Group
  1. Lung Investigation Unit, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr David Thickett, Lung Investigation Unit, 1st Floor, Nuffield House, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham B15 2TH, UK; d.thickett{at}

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The 2009 influenza pandemic was caused by the emergence of a new influenza virus, pandemic H1N1 2009 influenza A (pH1N1), to which many people had no pre-existing immunity. It caused unusual and extensive outbreaks of disease in the summer months in many countries and very high levels of disease in the winter months. The pandemic virus had almost complete dominance over other seasonal influenza viruses and was unusual in its clinical presentation because the most severe cases occurred more often in younger age groups. The WHO and the world's healthcare systems mobilised a massive healthcare resource effort to prepare for the potentially devastating effects of an influenza pandemic. In the UK there have been 474 deaths reported associated with confirmed cases of pH1N1 since the beginning of the pandemic. While this is almost certainly a sizeable underestimate, fortunately it is a figure much lower than some initial predictions.1

As of 10 August 2010, the WHO announced that the pandemic was over. In the southern hemisphere pH1N1 rates remain well below those observed during the same period in 2009 during the first pandemic wave. No large and unusual summer outbreaks have occurred in either northern or southern hemispheres. Indeed, the seasonal influenza A (H3N2) and influenza B viruses are currently being reported in …

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