Saturday, December 31, 2011

Officials closely watch H3N2 — new strain of swine flu - 6th Dec 2011


SALT LAKE CITY -- A new flu strain that has infected ten people in four states is catching the attention of health workers. So far, the cases have been pretty mild, but Utah health officials are watching the virus carefully.

This new swine-origin H3N2 flu virus has affected nine children, all under age ten, in Maine, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and recently in Iowa. In addition, a 58-year-old man also took ill.

The illness is not widespread yet, but health workers are able to be proactive in planning for this flu strain, rather than reactive, like they were with the H1N1 pandemic in 2009.

"This is the season of giving. But don't give away the flu virus. You don't want to be sharing that," said Valoree Vernon, an epidemiologist with the Utah department of Health.

Warnings like that are ubiquitous this time of year. But with this latest strain of H3N2, health workers are just playing the waiting game.

"We don't know what it's going to do, how it's going to behave. If it's going to be worse. If it's going to spread further," Vernon said. Read More