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Why is H1N1 called Swine Flu?

Updated at: Jan 25, 2013
Swine FLU
Written by: Vatsal AnandPublished at: Apr 12, 2011
Why is H1N1 called Swine Flu?

Understand Swine Flu: Why is H1N1 called Swine Flu? H1N1 is called swine flu because of slightly technical reasons. The name H1N1 is the bio-chemical nomenclature of what has come to be known as swine flu. Since, this particul

The swine flu pandemic broke out in the year 2009 in Mexico. The name swine flu was given because one of its components was found in the common flu that pigs get. That was based on the earliest researches carried out on the disease. Recent reports suggest that it is not completely correct. The paranoia created by this name resulted in slaughter of thousands of pigs. Since then it was decided to stick to the technical name of its virus, i.e. H1N1.


The authorities started to call it H1N1 which is its technical specification. All flu viruses are categorised as type A, B or C. The type A virus has been put under various sub-types with H and N numbers assigned to them. The H and N alphabet represent two different categories of proteins. There are 16 “H” proteins and 9 “N” proteins identified till now of type A flu. The flu virus that caused the epidemic in 2009 has been categorised as H1N1. It is believed that the pandemics in the years 1918, 1957 and 1968 were similar. The difference is that this virus is believed to have genes of the seasonal flu as well as avian flu virus. This has been the real cause for alarm.


It was hoped that renaming swine flu by its bio-chemical name would help in casting aside some of the swine flu misconceptions about it being caused by pigs, but of no avail. The name swine flu seems to have stuck and H1N1 is still thought of as belonging to medical parlance.



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