MMS Flu Advisory: Influenza A(H3N2)v Virus

Sign up to receive MMS Flu Advisories by e-mailSource: Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Between July 12, 2012 and August 9, 2012, 153 confirmed H3N2v cases have been identified in four states: Indiana (120 cases), Ohio (31 cases), Illinois (1 case) and Hawaii (1 case). The majority of H3N2v cases have been in children, although some adults have been infected, and linked to recent direct or indirect exposure to pigs at agricultural fairs, either through exhibiting pigs or walking through a swine barn. The Mass. Department of Public Health has issued an advisory with the following key points:

  1. The number of H3N2v influenza cases identified in the United States has increased and almost all have been associated with agricultural fairs and contact with swine.
  2. Health care providers should suspect H3N2v in patients presenting with influenza like illness (ILI) prior to the traditional flu season and should ask patients about any recent exposure to swine.
  3. Rapid influenza diagnostic tests (RIDTs) and commercially-available RT-PCR tests are not reliable for the identification of H3N2v influenza. All specimens should be sent to the Hinton State Laboratory for testing. Call 617-983-6800 to speak to an epidemiologist.
  4. To date H3N2v has appeared to be similar to seasonal flu in terms of duration and severity of illness, risk groups, infectious period, and clinical management. Providers should consider prompt presumptive antiviral treatment of suspect cases. However, to date, human-to-human transmission of H3N2v has been very limited.
  5. Because this virus is spread to people by close contact with pigs, common sense precautions for preventing diseases spread by animals are recommended for those caring for and exhibiting animals (e.g., frequent hand washing before and after exposure).
  6. Everyone not involved in the care and handling of pigs should avoid direct contact with pigs.
  7. Immunocompromised patients should avoid pigs and swine barns.
  8. Seasonal influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone, beginning at six months of age.

Comments are closed.