On September 2nd, the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced 2 similar cases of novel influenza A. Both cases, one in Pennsylvania and one in Indiana, were children under 5 who had recent direct or indirect contact with pigs. On September 5th, 2 additional cases were announced in children in Pennsylvania. While there is no epidemiological connection between the Indiana and Pennsylvania cases, the 3 children in Pennsylvania all attended the Washington County agricultural fair during the week of August 13th – 20th. According to the Department of Health, the first Pennsylvania case has fully recovered while the later cases are currently still recovering.
The strain infecting the 4 children has a unique genetic makeup: a mixture of H3N2 and H1N1 from the 2009 pandemic. The H3N2 virus has been found in pigs for the last 10 years, though human infection is rare. However, the presence of H1N1 is especially interesting and of possible concern, as it may influence transmission among humans. So far, the virus does not appear to spread from person-to-person.
The outbreak is currently under investigation by international influenza experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the meantime, officials urge anyone who attended the Washington County Fair and experiences flu-like symptoms to contact their local health care provider. Common symptoms include fever, extreme tiredness, lack of appetite and coughing.