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Swine flu — lessons learnt in Australia

Peter J Collignon
Med J Aust 2010; 192 (7): 364-365.

What did we do well in the first year of pandemic (H1N1) 2009, and what can we do better?

In Mexico in April 2009, a new H1N1 influenza strain appeared to be associated with a high mortality rate. This fuelled fears that a highly virulent virus would quickly spread internationally and cause millions of deaths. Appropriately heightened surveillance and controls were put in place, and Australia activated its “well-rehearsed plan for response to pandemic influenza”.1 Across the country by mid May, we had in place accurate polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for “swine flu”, improved public awareness of infection control and good public health surveillance. By September, Australia was among the first countries with a vaccine available. Now, a year after the virus first emerged, what have we learnt and how could our pandemic response be improved in the future?

  • Peter J Collignon1,2

  • 1 School of Clinical Medicine, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT.
  • 2 Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, Canberra Hospital, Canberra, ACT.


Competing interests:

Canberra Hospital, and my microbiology laboratory at the hospital, received public health funds to do additional pandemic (H1N1) 2009 testing.

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