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Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Understanding the nature of flu (influenza) viruses and how to prevent infection is the best way to lower your chance of getting sick from H3N2v virus.
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H3N2v is a virus that usually infects pigs but not people. This virus is very different from human seasonal H3N2 viruses. A number of human infections with variant influenza A H3N2 virus - also called "H3N2v" - have been detected in the United States since August 2011. You can track how many people get sick from this virus by visiting: Case Count: Detected U.S. Human Infections with H3N2v by State since August 2011.
Most of the infections with H3N2v have occurred after contact with pigs. Influenza viruses are thought to spread from infected pigs to humans in the same way that seasonal influenza viruses spread between people:
Scientists are not really sure which of these ways of spread is the most common.
In some cases, the H3N2v virus seems to have spread from person-to-person. So far, spread has not continued beyond one or two people. The symptoms and severity of H3N2v illness have been similar to seasonal flu.
You can reduce the risk of infection and spread of influenza viruses between people, including H3N2v, by taking a combination of actions. CDC recommends that you:
The H3N2v virus is related to human flu viruses from the 1990s, so adults should have some immunity against these viruses, but young children probably do not.
Early steps to make a vaccine against H3N2v have been taken, but no decision to mass-produce such a vaccine has been made. Seasonal vaccine is not designed to protect against H3N2v. For more information, please visit Information on H3N2 Variant Influenza A Viruses.
You can reduce the risk of influenza viruses spreading from pigs to people by taking these actions.
Note that certain people are at “higher risk” for serious flu complications if they get infected with influenza viruses, including H3N2v. This includes:
At this time, CDC recommends the following:
a. Contact your doctor if you have symptoms of flu and are very sick or worried about your illness.
b. Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you have flu symptoms and are at greater risk of serious flu-related complications. These individuals include:
You can find a full list of people at higher risk of flu related complications at People at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications.
The majority of recent H3N2v cases have been in children.
c. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs that can treat the flu, including H3N2v. These drugs work better for treatment the sooner they are started. If your doctor prescribes antiviral drugs for you, you should finish all of the medication, according to your doctor’s instructions.
These conditions and age factors put you at high risk of serious complications if you have the flu.
Swine influenza has not been shown to be transmissible to people through eating properly handled and prepared pork (pig meat) or other products derived from pigs. For more information about how to properly handle and prepare pork, visit the USDA website fact sheet Fresh Pork from Farm to Table.
For up-to-date information about H3N2v, please visit the following sites from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
This article was adapted from the CDC Fact Sheet: Protect Yourself Against H3N2v.
Last Reviewed: Jul 23, 2013
Y Mohamed Saif, DVM, PhD
Professor of Food Animal Health
Assistant Dean of Veterinary Medicine Administration
Professor of Animal Sciences
Professor of Veterinary Preventive Medicine
College of Veterinary Medicine
The Ohio State University
Chang Lee, PhD
College of Food, Agricultural, & Environmental Science
The Ohio State University