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U.S. Swine Flu Count Nears 1,900; Person-to-Person Transmission Now Common
Date:5/7/2009

tection next winter if the swine flu returns in a more virulent form. Besser dismissed the idea as a "big mistake."

On Thursday, the New England Journal of Medicine released early a study by CDC researchers that said 11 cases of infection with a swine flu virus similar to that involved in the current outbreak have been recorded in the United States since 2005. These viral strains were so-called "triple-reassortant" viruses, meaning that -- like the current H1N1 strain -- they contained genes from bird, pig and human viruses.

All but two of the cases involved people who had direct or indirect contact with pigs, but "in another patient, human-to-human transmission was suspected," wrote a team led by Dr. Lyn Finelli of the CDC's Influenza Division. The patients were typically young -- with an average age of 10 years -- and four of the 11 cases were severe enough to require hospitalization, with two needing invasive mechanical ventilation. Four patients were given the antiviral medication Tamiflu and all eventually recovered, according to the report.

Cases of this type of influenza H1 virus appeared to pick up more recently, with eight of the 11 cases being reported by the CDC after June 2007, the researchers noted. The cases were spotted via the CDC's routine "passive" flu surveillance systems and additional but unidentified cases may have occurred, the experts said.

The findings suggest that "all human infections with influenza viruses of animal origin, even those that appear to be clinically mild, warrant a thorough public health investigation to assess the epidemiological risk to humans," the researchers said.

At the teleconference, Besser also discussed reports of so-called swine flu parties.

"Having swine flu H1N1 parties is a big mistake," he said. "This is a new emerging infection and we are learning more each day, but how an individual person will be impacted by the infection is
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