Australia is in the midst of its traditional influenza season. This year the spectrum of viral respiratory infections has been joined by a newcomer as feared as any previous variation of influenza. Human swine flu, a novel influenza A H1N1 virus (now known as ‘H1N1 09’),1 emerged from the Americas into the full glare of western media and the World Health Organization (WHO) spotlights. Improvements in global public health infrastructure since the 20th century pandemics were set to be challenged by 21st century advances in worldwide travel. The southern hemisphere is the theatre; the stage is primary care; general practitioners are the key players in the first act.
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