What is swine flu (H1N1)?

Swine flu is the common name for a strain of flu that caused a pandemic in 2009-10.

Swine flu is also referred to as H1N1 flu because it’s caused by the H1N1 strain of the flu virus.

Swine flu symptoms

The symptoms of H1N1 flu are similar to other types of seasonal flu. The incubation period (the time between getting infected and symptoms appearing) can be up to seven days, but it’s most likely to be between two and five days. Most people recover within a week.

For more information, see What are the symptoms of swine flu (H1N1)? If you’re concerned about flu symptoms, contact your GP for advice.

Swine flu and the seasonal flu vaccination

The seasonal flu vaccination is offered to people at risk of developing serious complications from flu. To stay protected, people in at-risk groups need to have the flu vaccination every year.

The seasonal flu vaccination is recommended for all pregnant women, regardless of what stage of pregnancy they are at.

Stop flu spreading

The most important way to stop the flu virus spreading is to have good hygiene. You should:

  • use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in a bin as soon as possible
  • wash your hands regularly with soap and water
  • clean surfaces regularly to get rid of germs

The most effective way to slow the spread of diseases such as seasonal flu, including H1N1 flu, is to stop germs being transmitted from one person to another.

Read the answers to more questions about H1N1 flu (swine flu).

Further information:


Page last reviewed: 02/01/2015

Next review due: 01/01/2017

More about: h1n1 flu (swine flu)