September 3, 2011
CDC: Two US Kids Infected By Swine Flu Variant
Two U.S. children who had fallen ill with a previously unidentified influenza virus contracted a new strain that formed when one type of swine flu somehow picked up genetic material from the strain that was responsible for 2009's swine flu pandemic, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Friday.
According to AP Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione, the children - one of whom was from Pennsylvania and the other from Indiana - were infected in July and August and have both recovered. One had direct contact with pigs, while the other was indirectly infected by a caregiver who had such contact, "suggesting the virus can spread person-to-person," she said.
Rob Stein of the Washington Post adds that both children were two-years-old, and since both youngsters recovered and there have been no additional reports of similar illnesses, the strain of flu "does not appear to pose a threat of becoming a significant public health concern."
"We want people to be aware of these things and we want physicians to be aware," Lyn Finelli, chief of surveillance and response at the CDC Division, told Stein on Friday. "But we don´t think that these cases in themselves are alarming."
The child from Indiana was a boy, and was the one infected by the caretaker, who reportedly had been showing pigs at a county fair just a few days before the child became ill, Stein says. The Pennsylvania case involved a girl who had been to both a county fair and a petting zoo.
While not even family members of the affected children contracted the disease, Julie Steenhuysen of Reuters reports that the CDC is continuing to investigate the situation.
"Pandemic viruses get started when they reassort and they emerge as a new virus. That is why we have to keep close watch on new influenza viruses as they emerge," CDC spokesman Tom Skinner told her. "They are constantly changing, and that is why we have to have really good surveillance systems in place to detect them when they do emerge."
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