Nov 22, 2011 (CIDRAP News) – Health officials in Iowa announced today they have identified novel swine influenza A/H3N2 infections in three children, similar to cases that have been identified over the past months in a handful of other states.
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) said in a statement that routine surveillance turned up the novel virus in Webster and Hamilton counties. The virus is a swine-origin triple-recombinant H3N2 that includes the matrix gene from the 2009 H1N1 virus.
Though patients in other states had animal exposure, or a contact who had animal exposure, Iowa's recombinant H3N2 cases appear to have a human-to-human spread component, according to the statement. The IDPH said spread is so far limited, and no other cases have been identified in the past week.
Symptoms are similar to seasonal flu and include fever, cough, tiredness, body aches, and loss of appetite, according to the IDPH. None of the patients were seriously ill, and all have recovered.
Dr Patricia Quinlisk, IDPH medical director, said in the statement that the seasonal flu vaccine may offer some protection against the novel strain, and she stressed the importance of personal protective measures such as covering coughs and sneezes and staying home when sick.
Because the virus is unique, the IDPH said it is increasing surveillance for it through clinics and emergency rooms.
The cases appear to push the nation's total to 10 triple-recombinant H3N2 cases reported since September. On Nov 4 the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it confirmed the sixth and seventh cases, in patients in Maine and Indiana. Cases have also been detected in Pennsylvania.
Though rare, the swine-origin flu infections in humans can occur, especially after close contact with swine.
The CDC, however, has said that it doesn't expect the seasonal flu vaccine to protect against the novel strain. Swine-origin viruses have shown sensitivity to antiviral drugs oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza), it said.
Nov 22 IDPH statement
Nov 4 CDC statement