The statement came as New Zealand researchers announced that H1N1 has replaced seasonal influenza as the dominant strain during that country’s current wintertime flu season.
Sue Huang, head of New Zealand’s influenza center, said it’s the most contagious bug she has ever seen.
Recent reports point to older people having a relative immunity to H1N1 due to exposure to similar strains when they were younger.
But the virus’s effect on younger people can sometimes be life-threatening.
H1N1 doesn’t remain in the nose and throat as do most seasonal flu viruses. It can replicate aggressively in the lungs and intestines, doing severe damage to multiple organs, especially among those who are overweight.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nine out of 10 patients treated for H1N1 in an intensive care unit at the University of Michigan were obese.
Several companies are currently rushing to produce vaccines in time for the Northern Hemisphere’s winter flu season.