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Common Flu Terms

Flu: Short for influenza. The flu is caused by viruses that infect the respiratory tract which are divided into three types, designated A, B, and C. Most people who get the flu recover completely in 1 to 2 weeks. Much of the illness caused by influenza can be prevented by annual influenza vaccination.

H1N1 Virus (also referred to as Type A): The most common subtype of influenza A, including the swine flu virus. This illness can be transmissible between humans and animals.

Pandemic: An extreme infectious disease outbreak that affects the entire world. Type A influenza viruses are the only ones known to have cause pandemics.

Seasonal flu: A respiratory illness that can be transmitted person to person. Most people have some immunity, and a vaccine is available. This is also known as the common flu or winter flu.

Self-Isolation: A strategy used by public health authorities to contain the spread of a contagious illness. Isolation is the separation of people who are sick with a specific illness from healthy people and the restriction of their movement to stop the spread of that illness.

Vaccination/Inoculation: A preparation consisting of antigens of a disease-causing organism which, when introduced into the body, stimulates the production of specific antibodies or altered cells. This produces an immunity to the disease-causing organism. The antigen in the preparation can be whole disease-causing organisms (killed or weakened) or parts of these organisms.

For a more in-depth glossary, please visit http://www.pandemicflu.gov/glossary/index.html.