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Friday, June 10, 2011

Canada : Toronto-area child infected with new flu virus

Article from CTV News. A cause for concern? Excerpt :

" TORONTO : Canadian doctors are reporting what may be the first case of a new flu virus created after a child became co-infected with two influenza strains -- pandemic H1N1 and seasonal H3N2.

The 16-month-old boy from the Greater Toronto Area was admitted to a local hospital on January 24 and discharged home after about a 15-hour stay.

The child, who was suffering both respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms, recovered from his illness without complications and none of his family members or other close contacts contracted the virus.

Doctors only discovered the toddler had been infected with an altered flu virus after testing of nasal-throat swabs turned up evidence of what's called "reassortment" -- genes from the H1N1 and H3N2 flu viruses had been swapped, creating a virus with a new genetic combination.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first case of reassortment involving (pandemic) H1N1 and seasonal H3N2," said Dr. Jonathan Gubbay, a medical microbiologist at the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion.

"We can never definitely say it's the first ever, but we're pretty sure it is, that it hasn't been (previously) reported," he said in an interview.

Gubbay and colleagues who reported the case Thursday said the new virus is unlikely to pose a public health threat as the current seasonal flu vaccine protects against both H1N1 and H3N2, and it should provoke an antibody response against the combination virus as well."

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