US reports 1st swine flu death
Aug 31, 2012 / 4:00 pm
The United States has reported the first known death caused by the H3N2 variant virus, the new swine flu that has been jumping from pigs to people there.
And in another development that underscores how dynamic the intersection is between pigs, people and influenza viruses, health authorities in Minnesota announced Friday they have found three people infected with a different swine flu virus, an H1N2 variant virus.
An unidentified Ohio woman became the first to succumb to infection with H3N2v, which was first seen in people in the U.S. last summer.
The virus has triggered an explosion of cases, 288 at last count, in 10 states this summer.
The woman, 61, was from Madison County near the centre of the state. She reportedly had chronic health problems before she came down with H3N2v after visiting the pig exhibit at a county fair.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control expressed sympathies, but used the opportunity to warn that people who have serious health problems should avoid swine at the current time.
"These people should absolutely not have contact with pigs or visit pig arenas at fairs this summer," said Dr. Lyn Finelli, chief of surveillance and outbreak response in the CDC's influenza division.
People with a range of chronic illnesses, heart disease, asthma, chronic lung disease, or who have weakened immune systems are at higher risk of having severe illness if they become infected with influenza.
Most people who have been infected with H3N2v have had only mild illness, though 15 people have been hospitalized so far.
The term variant signals these are viruses of animal origin, not human flu strains.
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