Wednesday, 22 August 2012

A new strain of swine flu virus with the potential to cause another pandemic has emerged causing concern to health planners. The new strain, a variant of H3N2 virus that circulates in pigs, has acquired a gene from the pandemic human influenza H1N1 virus that created worldwide health scarce during 2009

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  A new strain of swine flu virus with the potential
to cause another pandemic has emerged causing concern to health
planners. The new strain, a variant of H3N2 virus that circulates in
pigs, has acquired a gene from the pandemic human influenza H1N1 virus
that created worldwide health scarce during 2009.

The H3N2 variant is capable of spreading from pig to man, and doctors
fear that it could acquire the capability of infecting man to man. And
if this happens, it will cause more damage to human population.
However, presently the virus is spreading from pig to people, who have
close contacts with the swine population.

The virus variant has been reported from three American States and a
few pockets outside. Though no cases of H3N2 variant have been
reported from India, the chances of its spread are quite high given
the large number of travelling public between India and the USA.
Incidentally, most of the cases related to new pathogens or strains of
existing germs go unreported in India, as there is no constant
surveillance or well-equipped laboratories to detect them.

“Viruses particularly those of influenza variety are capable of
spreading from animals to man and from man to man. So far, H3N2
variant virus has spread from pig to man and a single case of
human-to-human transmission. There is no sustained transmission so far
and thus there is no immediate cause of concern for people in India.
However, one has to be alert,” says infectious diseases expert Dr
Suneetha Narreddy of Apollo Hospitals.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the highest
health care body in the USA, reported on Saturday that H3N2 variant
virus contains the M gene from the human influenza A (H1N1) virus.
“Most human illness with H3N2v virus infection has resulted in signs
and symptoms of influenza (fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat,
muscle aches),” a CDC research study pointed.

Quoting the US Department of Agriculture the CDC report said H3N2
virus with the pandemic M gene has been detected in swine in a number
of US states. “It is possible that acquisition of the M gene from the
2009 H1N1 virus may allow H3N2v viruses to be more transmissible from
pigs to people and from person-to-person,” it warns.

The CDC has suggested that people should wash hands frequently with
soap and running water before and after exposure to animals and never
eat, drink or put things in mouth while in animal areas and should not
take food or drink into animal areas. Young children, pregnant women,
people 65 and older and people with weakened immune systems should be
extra careful around animals.

Studies conducted by CDC have indicated that children younger than 10
years old would have little to no immunity against H3N2v virus,
whereas adults may have some cross-protective immunity. Signs and
symptoms of H3N2v virus infection cannot be differentiated from those
caused by other respiratory infections, including seasonal influenza
virus infection.

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