Health officials say four children were infected with a new strain of swine flu, MSNBC.com reports.
All four children, three girls and one boy, have recovered or are recovering, and were infected through contact with pigs. The virus does not appear to spread easily from person to person, experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say.
In July, the boy was taken to a hospital emergency department with flulike symptoms of fever, cough and diarrhea, where a respiratory test confirmed influenza A (H3). The boy, who has multiple chronic health conditions, was briefly hospitalized. He had not been directly exposed to swine but a caretaker had been in direct contact with swine in the weeks before the boy became ill.
In August, [one of the girls] was also taken to a hospital emergency department with similar symptoms and discharged. A few days before she became sick with a fever, cough and lethargy, she reportedly visited an agricultural fair where she was exposed to swine.
This brand-new flu strain picked up a gene from the H1N1 strain that set off the flu pandemic in 2009 and 2010. Gene sharing among flu viruses is common, and causes problems when it creates novel strains to which people lack immunity, The Washington Post explained.
The new swine flu is unlikely to trigger a pandemic the way H1N1 did, experts say. CDC spokesman Tom Skinner told MSNBC.com, "There's no evidence of sustained transmission from human to human."
MSNBC also reported that in the first two cases, both children received flu vaccines in September 2010, which protected them against H1N1, but wouldn't protect against the new virus.
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