Minnesota Infant Monitored for New Flu Strain

Doctors are monitoring a Minnesota infant who has developed H1N2, a unique type of H1N1 or the swine flu, WCCO reported.

Minnesota Department of Health officials are not reporting too much concern over the threat, but warn this virus is difficult to pin down – and there is always the possibility of a new, deadlier strain emerging.

H1N2 is common in pigs in the upper Midwest. The infant did not come into contact with any pigs, nor did his family – so health officials said the flu virus must have mutated.

Tom Skinner, a spokesman from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said health officials are monitoring the situation closely.

"Discovery of these novel influenza viruses shows that our surveillance systems are working," Skinner said. "And  laboratory testing has advanced to where we’re now picking up infections that we’d likely not have picked up in the past."

Skinner said this is the second known case of H1N2 in a human reported to the CDC. The first case occurred in a Michigan girl in 2007.

“Typically influenzas change a little bit,” said Dr. Aaron DeVries of the Minnesota Department of Health. “When the virus changes substantially, that is when a pandemic can occur, and that is what happened in 2009.”

Up to 6,000 people died in the U.S. during 2009’s H1N1 pandemic.

“We do need a better vaccine and a better mechanism to rapidly develop vaccines,” DeVries said.

The current flu shot for the 2011-2010 season does not protect against H1N2.

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