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07 December, 2011

New Flu Strain, H3N2, Makes Health Experts Nervous

New Flu Strain, H3N2, Makes Health Experts Nervous: "A new variant of a flu virus that circulates in pigs has been jumping occasionally into people, providing a surprisingly early opportunity for public health officials to test out some of the lessons learned from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.

Since the virus was first spotted in July, there have been 10 cases, all but one of which were children under the age of 10. (The exception was a 58 year old.) All the cases have been in the United States; there have been no reports of this virus in people or pigs anywhere else

The most recent infections, in three young children in Iowa, almost certainly involved person-to-person spread. The Iowa cluster is likely larger — no one in the first child’s family had exposure to pigs, suggesting an unidentified person was the source of virus.

The cases leave public health authorities in the U.S. and elsewhere wondering if a new swine-origin influenza virus is circulating at low levels among humans – and what needs to be done if that is indeed happening..."

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