Skip to content
Flu in South Carolina

Novel H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu)

Disclaimer: This page is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being maintained or updated. Last updated in October 2010

Novel H1N1 flu, originally called swine flu, first surfaced in Mexico early in 2009. It quickly spread throughout the United States, arriving in South Carolina in April 2009. By June, it had spread to so many countries, the World Health Organization deemed it an influenza or flu “pandemic.”

Man coughingLike seasonal flu, novel H1N1 flu can cause mild to severe respiratory illness and can even lead to death.

A flu pandemic has two features:

  • It involves a new type (strain) of flu virus that has never infected humans before, so our immune systems sometimes have trouble fighting it off.
  • It has spread globally, to people on at least two continents.

Novel H1N1 Flu Spread Rapidly in South Carolina

Unlike seasonal flu, which seems to thrive in cold weather, novel H1N1 flu has flourished in the southern heat and humidity.

Within five months of our state’s first confirmed case, thousands of South Carolinians had tested positive for the new strain of flu. Some have had to be hospitalized. People have died from complications of novel H1N1 flu. Most of those who have died were in one of the high risk groups for novel H1N1, which are not the same as the high risk groups for seasonal flu.

Seasonal Flu High Risk Groups

Novel H1N1 High Risk Groups

People over 65 years of age Young adults 18 – 24 years of age.
Children younger than 2 years old Children birth to 18 years of age
People of any age who have chronic medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, asthma, congestive heart failure, lung disease) People ages 25-64 who have chronic medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, asthma, congestive heart failure, lung disease)
Pregnant women Pregnant women


Vaccine for Novel H1N1 Flu

Flu vaccines are your best protection against both seasonal flu and novel H1N1 flu. Each strain of flu requires a separate vaccine.

People who are in greater danger of life-threatening health problems from novel H1N1 flu or seasonal flu, should get vaccinated as soon as possible.

When the novel H1N1 flu vaccine first became available in October 2009, it was shipped to all states in very limited supplies and in varying formulations. Distribution of the vaccine was initially limited to persons identified by the CDC as being most susceptible to the novel H1N1 flu (see chart below). By December 21, 2009, enough vaccine was being received in South Carolina to allow healthcare providers to offer the vaccine to anyone who wishes to be vaccinated, regardless of age or health status.

Monitoring Outbreaks

DHEC monitors:      

  • Local outbreaks or clusters of novel H1N1 flu
  • Hospitalizations due to novel H1N1 flu
  • Deaths due to novel H1N1 flu
  • Changes in the severity of the virus.

Each week we update our flu surveillance information with the previous week's confirmed flu cases.

Medicines and Treatment for Novel H1N1 Flu

Your healthcare provider can give you medicine to help ease the severity and the duration of H1N1 flu. Two types of antiviral drugs — Tamiflu and Relenza — seem to work for this strain when taken shortly after symptoms begin.To learn more about antiviral medications, see the CDC’s H1N1 and Seasonal Flu: What You Should Know About Flu Antiviral Drugs.

See additional information on flu antivirals from the Food and Drug Administration:

For More Information

For more information on the 2009 H1N1 virus see these websites and factsheets from the CDC.

Additional Resources

If you have additional questions about the flu or flu vaccine, please call 1-800-27SHOTS (1-800-277-4687) or visit the CDC’s Seasonal Influenza website or