New Strain of Swine Flu Detected by CDC

New Strain of Swine Flu Detected by CDC

Written by Alex Reid
Posted September 14, 2012

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is preparing against a new strain of 'swine' flu after several cases were discovered in the past few months. The strain is known as H3N2 and is being watched closely because it contains the matrix (m) gene also found in the pandemic 2009 H1N1 strain, which may make it more likely for the virus to spread from person-to-person.

So far, according to Dr. Joseph Bresee from the CDC's influenza division, only 29 cases of H3N2 have been reported in the U.S. since July, 2011. However, 16 of those occurred within the past two months. Each of the 16 cases were among people who had direct contact with pigs, and 15 were contracted at a county fair. “Fortunately, sustained person-to-person transmission of the virus hasn't happened yet,” said Dr. Bresee, though it may be possible.

Experts are keeping a close watch on this strain because although flu viruses commonly circulate among pigs, they don't often spread to people, though they can if a person comes in close contact with an infected animal. "Swine influenza viruses have not been shown to be transmissible to people through eating, or handling pork or other products derived from pigs. It is not a food-borne disease," said Dr. Bresee.

According to a release by the CDC:

“Associated illness [of H3N2] so far has been mostly mild with symptoms similar to seasonal flu and most cases have occurred in children who have little immunity against this virus. Like seasonal flu, however, serious illness, resulting in hospitalization and death is possible. People at high risk of serious complications from H3N2v include children younger than 5, people with certain chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems, pregnant women and people 65 years and older. These people are urged to avoid pigs and pig arenas at fairs this season”

The CDC maintains that there is no cause for alarm right now, but that people should take the normal steps to avoiding infection and boosting their immune systems. These include:

  • Increased intake of vitamin D

  • Avoiding sugar and processed food

  • Getting enough sleep

  • Exercise

  • Finding ways to reduce stress

  • Getting Omega-3 fats

  • Washing hands often

Taking these steps will help protect you against infection from many types of influenza this flu season, including the H3N2 strain of swine flu.