Report: Most H3N2v cases this year caused by new genotype
Sixteen of 18 cases of variant H3N2 influenza (H3N2v) reported in Michigan and Ohio this summer were caused by a new genotype, according to a report today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
Researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed specimens from all 18 cases that occurred in August, 12 from Michigan and 6 from Ohio. Sixteen of the patients were children, seven of whom were younger than 5 years old. All reported swine contact at agricultural fairs, a known risk factor for contracting the virus. Thirteen reported direct contact with pigs. Four of the five patients who did not report direct swine contact said they passed through a swine barn, while the fifth person had unspecified indirect contact with swine.
Genetic analysis revealed that isolates from 16 of the patients were reassortant viruses that had "a constellation of genes not previously detected in viruses infecting humans." One of the eight gene segments coding for an H3 hemagglutinin (HA) gene in these reassortants was found to be similar to HA genes found in seasonal H3N2 viruses from 2010 and 2011.
"This HA gene was likely introduced from humans into swine in 2010 or 2011, and has since circulated and evolved in swine to be genetically and antigenically different from both previous and currently circulating human seasonal influenza A(H3N2) viruses," the authors said.
The researchers conclude, "To minimize transmission of influenza viruses from swine to humans and from humans to swine, agricultural fair organizers should consider measures such as shortening the time swine are on the fairgrounds to ≤72 hours, immediately isolating ill swine, maintaining a veterinarian on call for the duration of the swine exhibition, providing prominent handwashing stations, and prohibiting food and beverages in animal barns.
"Persons at high risk for influenza-associated complications should be discouraged from entering swine barns."
Oct 28 MMWR report
More H5N8 in India and low-path avian flu in Netherlands
India's Punjab state has reported highly pathogenic H5N8 avian flu in samples from two ducks that died in an industrial unit's reservoir, according to a report today by The Indian Express.
This is the first time this strain has been found in Punjab, which is in north India and borders Pakistan. Today's report marks the fifth avian flu outbreak in India this month. An H5N8 outbreak prompted a New Delhi zoo to close last week.
In September the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned certain regions to be alert for H5N8 after the virus was found in Russian waterfowl in June.
Also today, the infectious disease blog Avian Flu Diary, citing a translated statement from Dutch officials, is reporting low-pathogenic avian flu in the Netherlands. Birds on a poultry farm in Deurne, which is in the southernmost part of the country were found with "mild" cases of H5 avian flu.
Because low-path H5 can often mutate into highly pathogenic avian flu, the Netherlands' Ministry of Economic Affairs said the birds housed on the farm, including 11,000 turkeys, 3,500 pheasants, and 2,000 ducks, will be culled.
Oct 28 Indian Express story
Oct 28 Avian Flu Diary Netherlands post