[editing is mine]
Page last updated: August 31, 2012
Today, CDC is reporting 12 additional cases of H3N2 variant virus
(H3N2v) infection, as well as the first H3N2v-associated death, which
was reported by the state of Ohio. The death occurred in an older adult
with multiple underlying health conditions
who reportedly had direct exposure to pigs in a fair setting. While
limited person-to-person spread of this virus has been detected and
likely continues to occur sporadically, no sustained community
transmission has been found. CDC is monitoring this situation and
working with states to respond to these evolving outbreaks. The agency
continues to urge people at high risk from serious flu complications to
stay away from pigs and pig arenas at fairs this summer.
saddened to hear about the death of one person in Ohio associated with
the current H3N2v outbreaks," says CDC’s Dr. Lyn Finelli. "Like with
seasonal flu, we have been – and continue to be – particularly concerned
about people with factors that put them at high risk of serious
complications if they get the flu. These people should absolutely not
have contact with pigs or visit pig arenas at fairs this summer." Dr.
Finelli is Lead for the Surveillance and Outbreak Response Team in CDC’s
High risk factors for serious flu
complications include: being younger than 5 years (especially children
younger than 2 years), or 65 and older, pregnancy, and certain chronic
medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune
systems, and neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions. A full list of high risk conditions is available on the CDC seasonal flu website.
with a high risk factor should not only avoid pigs and pig arenas at
fairs, but they should also seek prompt medical attention if they get
flu-like symptoms, especially if they have pig exposure, but even in the
absence of pig exposure," Finelli says.
CDC has issued information for clinicians on H3N2v;
guidance which underscores the importance of rapid antiviral treatment
of influenza, including H3N2v virus infection, in high risk patients.
The H3N2v virus is susceptible to the influenza antiviral drugs
oseltamivir (Tamiflu ®) and zanamivir (Relenza ®).
For seasonal flu, CDC recommends
that it is best that people with high risk conditions who develop
flu-like symptoms contact their doctor, tell them about their symptoms,
and remind them about their high risk status. For the current H3N2v
outbreaks, if high risk people have exposure to pigs, it’s especially
important that they tell their doctor about this exposure.
with seasonal flu," Finelli says, "prompt antiviral treatment in a high
risk person can mean the difference between having a milder illness
versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay or
even death," says Finelli. "This message is critical not only for people
who are at high risk, but for America’s doctors who are treating these
patients. We want their suspicion for H3N2v to be high right now. Ask
patients with influenza-like-illness if they have pig exposure, but
regardless of whether they do, if they have a high risk factor, treat
them empirically with antivirals for influenza without waiting for
The 12 new cases reported this week are from the
states of Minnesota (1), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (1), and Wisconsin (7).
Cumulative totals for 2011 and 2012 by state are available in the H3N2v case count table.
of H3N2v have been consistent with seasonal influenza and can include
some or all of the following: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy
nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. Like with seasonal
flu, it’s possible that not everyone will have a fever. This may be
particularly true in elderly people or people with weakened immune
systems, whose bodies may not mount as effective an immune response to
the virus infection.
Found in U.S. pigs in 2010 and humans in July
2011, this H3N2v virus appears to spread more easily from pigs to
people than other variant influenza viruses. Most reported cases to date
have occurred in people who are exhibiting or helping to exhibit pigs
at fairs this season after close and prolonged contact with pigs. "So
far more than 90 percent of cases have occurred in people who are
exhibiting or helping to exhibit pigs, or who are family members of
these people. That is why our message is so targeted," says Finelli. CDC
has developed recommendations and materials for people attending fairs
this summer and is working with states as well as organizations like 4-H
National Headquarters and the International Association of Fairs and
Expositions to disseminate these messages and materials.
CDC also has developed supplemental H3N2v guidance for schools.
Last year, there was at least one outbreak of H3N2v in a day care
setting in the fall and CDC believes it possible that localized
outbreaks of H3N2v, particularly in schools or day cares, may occur as
the weather turns colder and schools across the country are underway.
"The guidance document is a heads up for schools to be aware of, and on
the look-out for, illness with this virus," Finelli explains.
important to remember that this is an evolving situation that could
change quickly." Finelli concludes, "We’re constantly looking at our
data and re-evaluating."