Rapid increase in H3N2v cases in Indiana and Ohio

The numbers of patients infected with the H3N2v strain has recently increased to over 100. Those numbers strongly suggest efficient pig to human transmission. Limited human to human transmission has been previously reported and has likely occurred in the current outbreaks as well. Sustained transmission has not been established yet, but is a risk.

To prevent further spread of this virus from pigs to humans, I suggest the following:

1. Ban pigs from County and State fairs.
2. Test pigs and start culling affected animals.
3. Activate BARDA’s rapid vaccine program.
4. Vaccinate anyone who must work in close association with pigs.
5. Offer tamiflu and vaccine (when available) to close contacts of affected individuals.

This will be expensive and may opposed by the swine industry. However, a new pandemic would be far more costly. Although no-one has died as a result of infection with this strain, it is possible that it will become more dangerous if it adapts fully to humans. Aggressive action now may prevent many tragedies.

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