Two young children were reported to have contracted a new 'hybrid' influenza virus, a gene 're-assortment' that appears to have successfully jumped from pigs to humans and again from one human to another.
The tricky and potentially deadly characteristic shared by viruses is found in an ability to rapidly recombine genetic material from other viruses and from older generations in a random manner that can lead to the development of more successful strains.
In a somewhat disturbing development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that a "unique" strain of influenza has surfaced this summer in two young American children, the first in Indiana and the second in Pennsylvania. According to an Associated Press report, the new strain operates with genetic code from the H1N1 pandemic that appeared globally in 2009.
The new influenza strain is considered to be an H3N2 subtype, a particularly mobile virus that is abundant in birds, pigs, and humans. H3N2 is found regularly in seasonal influenza strains and is believed to kill roughly 36,000 Americans annually.
In the Pennsylvania case, the virus appears to have jumped species, from pig to human. But in the Indiana case, the virus was transmitted from human to human. Both of the infected were under the age of 5, and both recovered. It is not known if the new virus has spread beyond the two children.
Both children had previously received the H1N1 vaccine, according to Medical News Today.
"We wanted to provide some information without being alarmist," the CDC said, according to the Associated Press.
However, the H3N2 "re-assortment" is resistant to amantadine and rimantadine but can be treated currently with the neuraminidase inhibitor drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir.