H1N1 Update – March 3, 2010

Pneumonia is worse when mixed with H1N1

Researchers at the University of Chicago have discovered that the pandemic H1N1 flu virus has the intrinsic ability to cause more severe pneumonia than seasonal H1N1 flu. This ability is a measure of a flu virus’s pandemic potential. They found pandemic H1N1 caused a pneumonia in certain patients that was intermediate in severity between seasonal H1N1 and the highly pathogenic H5N1. University of Chicago Journal of Infectious Diseases

H1N1 Evolution

Scientists at the University of Hong Kong have isolated the first reported genetic reassortment of the H1N1 virus. The reassortment is a hybrid of the original swine flu and the human pandemic H1N1 virus. Reassortments occur when a single host is infected by more than one strain of virus, and the mixed virus particles assemble themselves into something new. The Chinese Department of Agriculture released a statement saying that the new virus does not pose a public health risk or food-safety issue. University of Minnesota CIDRAP

H1N1 Adds Risk to Pregnancy

An Australian study has found that pregnant women can be particularly vulnerable to H1N1 especially if the mothers are asthmatic, diabetic, or obese. However, effects of H1N1 on the fetus are less well understood. Doctors recommend flu shots for pregnant women, but many women are reluctant to receive immunizations or take drugs during pregnancy. The researchers note there is evidence that doctors’ lack of awareness may be “a major contributor, with good acceptance by mothers when the risks and benefits are explained.” Reuters