Flu is surging in several parts of the world, with pandemic 2009 H1N1 (pH1N1) outbreaks making headlines in Palestine, Norway, and Yemen, and rising numbers of illnesses, primarily from the H3N2 strain, reported in US states such as Minnesota and South Carolina.
A Palestinian health official said a pH1N1 outbreak has killed nine people and infected 225 more, as reported on 31 December 2012. Meanwhile, Norwegian officials said more patients are testing positive for the virus in the country’s major cities, including 84 at a hospital west of Oslo, a city that has activated personnel to respond to a possible major outbreak. In Yemen, five recent flu deaths prompted health officials to set up an operations center to address a potential outbreak, according to a report on 2 January 2013. In the United States, where the H3N2 virus has been dominating, surging numbers of flu cases in South Carolina have led some clinics to call in more staff to handle the load, reported on 2 January 2013. Jim Ellis, MD, medical director for MD 360 Convenient Care practices, said clinics in Greenville and Simpsonville are seeing about 90 flu patients a day. In Minnesota, a holiday spike in flu cases has led to concern that this season could be the worst in several years. State health officials said 120 people were hospitalized for flu during the week ending 22 December 2012, nearly double the previous week, a pace that could rival the 2009 H1N1 pandemic months.
Su S, Li HT, Zhao FR, et al. Infection, Genetics and Evolution. 20 December 2012. doi:10.1016/j.meegid.2012.11.018.
Available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S156713481200370X
Abstract. Since 2006, more and more cases of the infectious H3N2 canine influenza virus (CIV) in pet dogs have been reported in southern China. However, little is known about the prevalence situation of H3N2 CIV infections in farmed dogs in China. This is the first systematic epidemiological surveillance of CIV in different dog populations in southern China. Two virus strains A/canine/Guangdong/1/2011(H3N2) and A/canine/Guangdong/5/2011(H3N2) were isolated from canine nasal swabs collected at one dog farm in Guangzhou and the other farm in Shenzhen. Sequence and phylogenetic analysis of eight gene segments of these viruses revealed that they were most similar to the newly isolated canine H3N2 viruses in dogs and cats from Korea and China, which originated from avian strain. This indicates that H3N2 CIV may be a common pathogen for pet and farmed dog populations in southern China at present. Serological surveillance has shown that the infection rate of this avian-origin canine influenza in farmed dogs and in pet dogs were 12.22% and 5.3%, respectively; as determined by the ELISA. The data also suggested that transmission occurred, most probably by close contact, between H3N2 CIV infected dogs in different dog populations in recently years. As H3N2 outbreaks among dogs continue in the Guangdong province (located very close to Hong Kong), the areas where is densely populated and with frequent animal trade, there is a continued risk for pets H3N2 CIV infections and for mutations or genetic reassortment leading to new virus strains with increased transmissibility among dogs. Further in-depth study is required as the H3N2 CIV has been established in different dog populations and posed potential threat to public health.
The CDC said it received a new report of H3N2v infection, the first to be reported since the end of September 2012. The patient, from Iowa, had no contact with swine or other livestock the week before becoming sick.
Patricia Quinlisk, MD, MPH, medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, stated that the H3N2v infection was detected within two weeks through routine surveillance. The patient is a child who has since recovered. Iowa reported three H3N2v cases in 2011, but it did not detect any over the summer and fall when several states—especially Indiana and Ohio—were reporting cases linked to fairs and other similar events.
Health officials are investigating the source of the infection. Quinlisk said another member of the child’s family had been sick previously but was not tested.
The CDC said the new H3N2v case pushes the number of such infections reported since July 2012 to 311. Most cases were related to contact with swine in fair settings. The CDC said though instances of human-to-human transmission have been identified, there is no evidence of ongoing transmission.