THURSDAY, Jan. 20 (HealthDay News) -- This winter, influenza seems to be behaving very differently depending on what side of the Atlantic you're on.
As of last week, for example, H1N1 ("swine") flu still predominated in Britain, where 112 people have died, hospitals are filling up with very ill flu patients, and some doctors report running out of vaccine, according to the BBC. Experts are concerned that the virus -- known as 2009 H1N1 -- could create a similar situation in mainland Europe.
However, in the United States, clinicians are only now starting to see cases of the flu -- mostly of the traditional, H3N2 variety -- and the atmosphere is much more calm. Vaccine is plentiful and much of it is going unused.
Still, with modern air travel allowing viruses to spread easily around the globe, could the British flu experience travel to America?
That question remains unanswered. According to experts, it's still relatively early in the flu season and anything could happen.
In Rochester, N.Y., "we're getting a mix of a little bit of H1N1 but not much. We're seeing more of H3N2 and some influenza B, so all three players are in the pot," said Dr. Edward Walsh, an infectious diseases expert and professor of medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "As to which one is going to be dominant, we're waiting and seeing. I don't think we can predict that yet."
Walsh's reports mirror those of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which says -- for the week ending Jan. 8, 2011 -- about 8 percent of samples tested were 2009 H1N1 and 31.5 percent the H3N2 variety.
Still, H3N2's dominance "could change very quickly," Walsh said.
One theory as to why H1N1 hasn't made a strong showing in the United States this year is that many Americans gained immunity last season.
"So much of the U.S. population was vaccinated against
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