Two weeks ago, there was an interview in a French Newspaper with Didier Raoult, a well-known microbiologist [hat-tip, B. C. at Flutrackers]. Here is the original in French followed by a rough translation into English:
From Le Monde, September 15, 2009.
Didier Raoult : Une chose est sûre, il ne s’agit pas d’une “grippette”. Cette grippe est unique, elle suit un schéma particulier jamais vu jusqu’à présent. Je rentre tout juste d’un congrès international sur la grippe aux Etats-Unis. Les travaux présentés ont mis en évidence que deux Américains décédés de la grippe A étaient porteurs d’une mutation. Cette mutation n’explique peut-être pas tous les morts sans antécédents médicaux, mais il faut prendre cette éventualité en compte.
Didier Raoult: One thing is for sure, this is no” little” flu. This flu is unique and follows a pattern never seen before. I just returned from a conference on influenza in the United States. A study was presented there that indicated that two Americans died of an influenza virus that had mutated. Perhaps this mutation does not explain all the deaths without underlying conditions, but we should take this possibility into account.
The conference mentioned is likely the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy which occurred September 12-15, 2009 in San Francisco.
As far as I know, there has been no further mention of these cases or the mutation that was discussed at the Conference. Indeed, the WHO routinely issues press releases stating quite explicitly that the virus has not mutated. It is possible that Dr. Raoult was misquoted. However, given that the CDC is now actively looking for clusters of people who cough up blood, I’m not so sure.
If there was a mutated form of H1N1 that was causing pulmonary hemorrhage in people with no underlying health conditions, the CDC and the WHO would tell us, right?