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A New Kind of Swine Flu: Meet H3N2v

A New Kind of Swine Flu: Meet H3N2v

Picture of Barbara Feder Ostrov

Don't pet the pigs.

Last week's news that a new variant of swine flu had sickened 10 county fairgoers in Ohio has public health officials a bit concerned. That's because the variant, H3N2v, is genetically similar to the H1N1 swine flu virus that sickened millions of people around the world in 2009 and 2010.

From the Wall St. Journal:

Both the H3N2 and H1N1 viruses have the M gene, which might signal the potential for humans to spread the disease among themselves…

…The H3N2 flu viruses have been detected in eight states since last year, including Indiana, Ohio and Iowa. The majority of the 29 reported cases came after people were in contact with pigs at county, state or agricultural fairs.

While the H3N2v variant has been transmitted from person to person, it appears to be less infectious than the H1N1 virus, and CDC officials say pork is safe to eat because flu viruses aren't transmitted in properly cooked pork.

The CDC is keeping a close eye on the variant and is preparing an H3N2 vaccine candidate in case this type of influenza becomes more widespread. From the CDC:  

It's possible that sporadic infections and even localized outbreaks among people with this virus will continue to occur. While there is no evidence at this time that sustained human-to-human transmission is occurring, all influenza viruses have the capacity to change and it's possible that this virus may become widespread. So far, the severity of illnesses associated with this virus in people has been similar to the severity of illnesses associated with seasonal flu virus infections.

County fairs are still underway in many communities in the United States, and some have shut down fairground petting zoos. What's happening in your community?

More Resources:

CDC MMWR Report on H3N2 Cases

CDC: H3N2v Background

CDC Telebriefing: Influenza A (H3N2) Variant Virus

CIDRAP News: New details emerge in novel H3N2 reports

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