The virus that killed two people in Veneto was A/H1N1 discovered in 2009: at the time it caused concern but today it is among the most widespread and well-known. There is a vaccine but few people take it
Yesterday afternoon the news was released two deaths from swine flu in Vicenza: a 55-year-old and a 47-year-old both with previous pathologies who were hospitalized in the intensive care unit. At first we talked about swine flu and the detail created a lot alarm because many believed that it was a new strain that had to do with contact with pork. So much so that, in the evening, the Veneto Prevention Directorate issued a note to extinguish any alarmism, reporting that the virus in question isH1N1 pdm09 (Pandemic disease Mexico 2009)in circulation in all flu seasons since 2009. Calling it the swine flu virus is a media legacy that makes one think of a non-seasonal virus written in the note signed by the director Francesca Russo.
Where does the name swine flu come from?
But why was there talk of swine flu then? The virus, as written, has been in circulation since 2009. In that year it had caused a lot of concern because it was a new influenza viruswith genes from avian, porcine and human viruses in a combination that had never been observed before but which, despite having porcine origin, immediately became human explains Fabrizio Pregliasco, virologist, company health director of the Irccs Galeazzi Sant’Ambrogio hospital in Milan. In April 2009 theWorld Health Organization declared public health emergency of general concern. Initially there was not even a vaccine and the virus spread out of season (peaking in July 2009). The emergency ended on 10 August 2010. There was an epidemic – recalls Pregliasco – but less serious than expected because the “grandfather” of this new virus was the Spanish flu with which the older people, that is, the most at risk category, had had contact. For this reason, young people became ill much more and this caused alarm.
In any case, even then, it was known that it was an airborne virus like other influenza viruses, which it is not transmitted by eating pork or pork products correctly processed and cooked. Over the years the A/H1N1 virus has been “downgraded” – adds Pregliasco – in the sense that it has no longer created particular alarms and it is a virus that has been known for over a decade and we have had a vaccine available for a very long time.
Failure to vaccinate
The H1N1 virus is a form of influenza A that we know well. Nothing new on the horizon, unfortunately we have vaccinated little this year. The vaccination campaign was disastrous and these are the results, together with a very low coverage for Covid. We know that vaccines prevent serious forms of the flu, unfortunately when there are such virulent forms that also affect young people we are reminded of the importance of vaccines underlines Matteo Bassetti, director of infectious diseases at San Martino hospital in Genoa. Today 80% of flu cases in Italy are H1N1 and, unfortunately, we have not vaccinated well, he adds Massimo Andreoniscientific director of Simit, the Italian Society of Infectious and Tropical Diseases.
Every year 8-10 thousand people die with the flu while there are around 300 deaths due to primary influenza pneumonia – recalls Pregliasco who underlines the importance of vaccines -: unfortunately few choose to get vaccinated, often they don’t even do it the most fragile people and the elderly, patients who are more at risk and who would thus be protected from serious illness. However, even young people can be hospitalized due to the onset of complications. Among other things, the higher the number of new cases, the more likely someone will end up in hospital or the emergency room. This is why it is important to support the flu vaccination in any way, which is the most effective weapon at our disposal to reduce the spread of these pathologies.
There are quadrivalent vaccines available that cover different strains, including the most widespread AH1N1
but despite it being widely accepted that vaccination represents the most effective intervention to prevent influenza and its complications, our country still largely below vaccination targets proposed by the Ministry of Health which recommends a minimum coverage of 75% and an optimal coverage of 95%, in order to reduce flu-related mortality as well as healthcare costs and productivity losses linked to seasonal flu epidemics.
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January 10, 2024 (modified January 10, 2024 | 12:36)
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