What Is the Scientific Name for Swine Flu?

Author: Gabrielle Marks


H1N1 is the scientific name for the swine flu.

What Does H1N1 Mean?

The Influenza A virus has 16 H subtypes and 9 N subtypes.  The H and the N represent different proteins located on the surface of the virus.  When two separate and distinct viruses infect one animal simultaneously, the viruses can merge to form a new strain.

Where Did the Name "Swine Flu" Originate?

Swine flu in pigs is caused by influenza A.  There are four isolated influenza A subtypes common to pigs, H1N1, H1N2, H3N3, and H3N1.  Infection in humans is usually due to direct contact with a human and the pig carrying the virus. Once the human contracts the virus, he can then spread it to other humans.  Though you cannot get swine flu from eating pork, the CDC recommends cooking all pork to its safe consumption temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.  If cooked properly, all bacteria and viruses are killed.

Did H1N1 Originate in North America?

When H1N1 was first studied, the flu exhibited many of the same genes found in a similar influenza common to North American pigs.  More exhaustive studies have shown that the N1H1 strain of influenza actually has two genes common to pigs in Europe and Asia, avian genes, and human genes.


Works Cited

Medical News Today
What Does H5N1 Mean When We Talk About Avian Influenza Virus?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Key Facts about Swine Influenza (Swine Flu)

Expert Opinion 

Quote:  "It is not correct to call the current disease ‘swine influenza'. The virus that is circulating includes genetic components of human, avian and swine origin. The OIE proposed to refer to this new virus as ‘North American influenza', using the same approach to nomenclature as used with the Asian influenza and Spanish influenza outbreaks that have occurred in the past."

Source:   World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE),

Press Release Paris, April 28 - 2009

Quote:   "WHO spokesman Dick Thompson says the name change comes after the agriculture industry and the U.N. food agency expressed concerns that the term "swine flu" was misleading consumers and needlessly causing countries to order the slaughter of pigs. He told reporters in Geneva "we're going to stick with the technical scientific name H1N1 influenza A."

Source: Fox News


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"What Is the Scientific Name for Swine Flu?." Sophisticated Edge. N.p., n.d. Web. . <http://www.sophisticatededge.com/what-is-the-scientific-name-for-swine-flu.html>.  

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