U.S. officials track new flu strain

Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:04pm EDT
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By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A new type of swine flu has infected at least two children in California and while both have recovered, U.S. health officials said on Tuesday they were looking for more cases.

They say it is possible the children were infected by other people and not by pigs, and said they have consulted with officials in Canada, Mexico and at the World Health Organization although there is no evidence that the new virus is circulating widely.

In a special alert, the CDC asked doctors in California's San Diego and Imperial counties, on the border with Mexico, to test anyone with flu-like symptoms and send the samples in for testing.

"Both of these kids came to our attention because they were seen in clinics which do routine surveillance for influenza infections," the CDC's Dr. Lyn Finelli told reporters in a telephone briefing.

Neither child, a 10-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl, had especially severe symptoms, although the girl had had a fever of 104 degrees, Finelli said.

"We are not making the assumption that there are widespread infections out there and there is not any action that the public should take right now," Finelli said.

The influenza strain is an H1N1, the same family as one of the seasonal flu viruses now circulating. But it genetically resembles a virus found in pigs and not in people, officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

It has never been seen before, the CDC said.   Continued...

<p>The H1N1 influenza strain in a microscopic image courtesy fo the CDC. REUTERS/Handout</p>