flu

flu

new virus h3n2 A RANT

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Three children in north-central Iowa have been sickened by a new version of the flu virus. The Iowa Department of Public Health announced this afternoon that the children had tested positive for the A/H3N2 strain of the influenza virus, which has cropped up in several other states this fall. The children are from Webster or Hamilton counties. None needed hospitalization, and all have recovered. The same strain has sickened seven other Americans - in Pennsylvania, Maine and Indiana. Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, the department's medical director, said the new virus is very similar to "A" strains that have been around for years. Because of that, she said, experts believe the current flu vaccine will provide some protection against it. Quinlisk said she did not believe any of the three Iowa children who became ill had received the vaccine this year. The three children's names, ages and hometowns were not released, but Quinlisk said one of the children apparently passed the virus to the other two. Two years ago, public-health authorities declared a crisis after the appearance of a new flu virus, H1N1. Quinlisk said H3N2 strain is causing less concern because it has more similarities to previous strains and because it appears to cause relatively mild illnesses. "The H1N1 virus was different because it was very new and it seemed to spread very easily from person to person," she said. However, Quinlisk said state health authorities have increased their surveillance activities in the Iowa region where the H3N2 virus popped up, and they are coordinating their efforts with federal experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Quinlisk said such situations have cropped up two or three times in the past decade. "It's not real common, but it's not that different, either," she said. Flu viruses routinely mutate, forcing health authorities to repeatedly reformulate vaccines. http://hisz.rsoe.hu/alertmap/site/?pageid=event_desc&edis_id=EH-20111123-33132-USA