Triple-Reassortant Swine Virus Seen Since 2005 in US

NEJM releases content addressing various issues related to outbreak
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 7 (HealthDay News) -- Eleven cases of infection similar to the swine flu outbreak currently under way -- triple-reassortant swine influenza A (H1) viruses -- have been documented since 2005 in the United States, according to a study led by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and released May 7 by the New England Journal of Medicine. This study was accompanied by another study, two editorials, and three perspectives focused on the swine flu outbreak.

The NEJM noted that the swine origin influenza virus (S-OIV) that causes the H1N1 flu is simply the latest strain of H1 hemagglutinin virus which first appeared in both humans and swine in 1918 and has returned in different variants ever since. The S-OIV will continue to mutate in unknown ways over the coming months and might even replace H1 virus as the seasonal flu virus, evolving new antigenic variants every year, the journal speculated. To further support clinicians, who will be challenged to recognize the disease when it returns, the journal said it will establish an H1N1 Influenza Center at NEJM.org to provide information and links to the latest data on the outbreak.

In an editorial, the NEJM urged clinicians to prepare for the next wave of H1N1 flu in the fall and drug manufacturers to launch an accelerated program to develop a vaccine in time.

"Completing seasonal-vaccine production and adding a monovalent S-OIV vaccine to production will be challenging both technically and in terms of policy, but it can be done," the NEJM editorialized.

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