What is the influenza Virus?

It’s the most common respiratory infection in the world, affecting 25 to 50 million people a year in the United States. Its symptoms mimic the common cold but are generally more severe. The influenza virus is most common during winter months, but not because of the colder temperatures. Rather, the virus is spread more effectively among people who stay indoors and in closer proximity to each other. Incubation of the virus is one or two days after infection. Recovery takes about a week, and most people are able to recover without the help of drugs. People who die as a result of the influenza virus die mostly from complications caused by the virus, not from the virus itself.

The influenza virus is dangerous for a number of reasons.

  1. The influenza virus can escalate into serious complications like bronchitis and pneumonia.
  2. The influenza virus is highly contagious, spreading through airborne respiratory secretions. To get the flu, all you have to do is breathe air particles infected with the virus.
  3. The influenza virus can also linger on surfaces like door knobs and tables.
  4. The influenza virus structure mutates in two distinct ways called “antigenic drift” and “antigenic shift.” This ability to mutate results in numerous subtypes and strains of influenza.
  5. Through “antigenic shift,” the influenza virus structure allows two different influenza strains, one a human strain and one an animal strain, to combine into a third new strain that has the ability to move from animals to humans.
  6. Through “antigenic drift,” the influenza virus mutates slowly over time.
  7. The ability of the influenza virus structure to mutate often renders new subtypes and strains capable of circumventing the immune system of the body.
  8. The new subtypes and strains develop so often that scientists can’t develop vaccines quickly enough to contain the virus, resulting in global pandemics.

What is the H1N1 Virus?

H1N1 first emerged in 2009 and caused a world-wide pandemic. It is now a seasonal flu virus included in seasonal flu vaccines. Also called “Swine Flu” because the virus affects pigs as well as humans, H1N1 is an influenza virus strain in the same flu category as the Spanish flu, which caused an influenza pandemic in 1918 and killed between 20 and 40 million people.

H1N1 Virus Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • (Less common in adults) vomiting and diarrhea

H1N1 virus symptoms are nearly identical to those of a common cold. H1N1 virus, however, can be differentiated from the common cold in these ways:

  1. H1N1 virus symptoms are much worse than the same symptoms of a common cold.
  2. H1N1 virus symptoms come on abruptly, whereas the symptoms of a cold come on more gradually.
  3. Chills, fatigue, weakness, and headaches are common H1N1 virus symptoms but more rare with a common cold.

How to Prevent the Influenza Virus

The Centers for Disease Control recommend yearly flu vaccines, which vaccinate against three of the most common flu viruses by exposing the body to small amounts of the virus so that the body develops antibodies to fight the full-blown virus should you be exposed to it. The CDC also recommends the following:

  • Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough. Throw tissues away.
  • If you are sick, limit contact with others.
  • Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without using fever-reducing medications.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water and use alcohol-based sanitizers.
  • Take antiviral drugs if you get the flu.


Ted Pelot Owner & President of Crime Scene Cleanup Company - Advanced Bio-Treatment