Swine Flu, or H1N1, is a relatively new strain of influenza that caused a global pandemic in 2009. The highly contagious virus, first identified in Mexico, quickly spread across the globe, drawing comparisons to the 1918 Spanish flu. Soon after the start of the 2009 pandemic, North American researchers suggested that pigs may have acquired the flu during the Spanish Influenza pandemic which then passed back to humans as H1N1 ninety years later.
The Centre for Disease Control estimated that worldwide, between 151,700 and 575,400 people died from the flu in 2009-10. Many young people had no immunity against the new strain, whereas older people were likely exposed to an earlier H1N1 virus. Eighty percent of those who died were under the age of sixty-five.
In April 2009, the first confirmed case of H1N1 in Alberta was an individual who had recently traveled to Mexico. In May, more than 200 pigs infected with human swine flu were found on a farm in central Alberta, possibly exposed by a carpenter who had also recently visited Mexico. This raised concerns that the virus would mutate, to form a new virus, so the entire herd was voluntarily culled in June. During the 2009 pandemic, 1,276 Albertans were hospitalized and 71 died from H1N1. The Swine Flu still infects Albertans on a yearly basis, but it is now considered a seasonal flu and is covered by the annual flu vaccine.