Thursday, September 27, 2012

Report: Two-thirds of those hospitalized by new flu strain were from Ohio

[There is additional information on H3N2v located on the right side-bar]

By Peggy O'Farrell
Staff Writer
More than two-thirds of the people who contracted a new flu virus spread by swine at county fairs around the nation were from Ohio, federal health data show.

A report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 11 of 16 people hospitalized for H3N2v this summer were from Ohio. Ohio reported also the only death associated with the outbreak, a 61-year-old Madison County woman who died Aug. 26.

But so far, the available data on H3N2v flu and the people sickened by it do not explain why Ohio had so many hospitalizations, said Dr. Celia Quinn, author of the report and a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service officer. Quinn is assigned to work with the Ohio Department of Health through 2014.

As new flu strains emerge, public health experts monitor how easily they spread and how sick they make people. In the case of H3N2v, they are watching it to see it develops the ability to spread easily from person-to-person, instead of only from pigs to people. The concern is that new flu viruses could spur a pandemic, or worldwide flu epidemic, with the potential to sicken millions. The last pandemic was the H1N1 pandemic in 2009-2010. The H3N2v flu strain contains a gene from that strain.


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