CDC: New Swine Flu Strain Has 'Pandemic Potential'
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 12 cases - since August 2011 - of human infection with a swine-origin influenza A (H3N2) virus. This virus carries the M gene from the 2009 H1N1 virus that sickened more than one million people and killed another 477 in the United States.
Most cases only report a mild illness, with three of the 12 requiring hospitalization for recovery. Even though human-to-human transmission has not been sustained, the CDC recently indicated that the virus has the potential to lead to a pandemic based on the findings of a recent study. This represents a new stance for the CDC. Previously the organization said the strain gave no indication that it could lead to a repeat of the 2009-2010 H1N1 pandemic.
The new study showed that H3N2 was highly transmissible from ferret to ferret. Ferrets are commonly used to test to possibility of human-to-human virus transmission.
Cases of H3N2 have been reported in Iowa, Indiana, Maine Pennsylvania and West Virginia. All 12 patients have recovered fully. There have been no reported cases of H3N2 infection in 2012.
The current seasonal flu vaccine will not protect against H3N2. Jan/san distributors can help curb the spread of potential infections by educating customers on correct disinfecting procedures and helping promote proper hand hygiene.