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2 flu cases transmitted from pigs
In rare cases, a person may contract an influenza virus from a pig.
September 2nd, 2011
04:23 PM ET

2 flu cases transmitted from pigs

You may remember "swine flu" as the 2009 H1N1 virus, which sent people out for hand sanitizer in droves and avoiding anyone who was coughing and sneezing. No one actually caught it from a pig; it's transmitted from person to person. But on Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports on two children who were indeed sickened by a flu virus that originated from pigs.

The CDC report "describes two cases of febrile respiratory illness caused by swine-origin influenza A (H3N2) viruses identified on August 19 and August 26."  Researchers also discovered that the virus that sickened the children had a genetic component of the 2009 H1N1 flu virus that was incorrectly tagged as a swine flu. Transmission of the flu from pigs to humans is rare, but it does happen.

Don't panic, though: CDC officials say that this is a rare occurrence and that the virus is not at all likely to spread.

"It’s a biological freak. It is not a harbinger of things to come," said Dr. William Schaffner, professor and chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

In Indiana, a 5-year-old boy who had gotten an influenza vaccine in September started showing unusual symptoms in July: fever, cough, diarrhea, sore throat and shortness of breath. He went to a local emergency department and was discharged but returned the following day, when he was hospitalized for treatment of multiple chronic health conditions that had gotten worse. He tested positive for a swine-origin influenza A virus and has since recovered.

Although the boy hadn't had direct contact with a pig, one of his caretakers reportedly did have direct contact with swine who didn't show flu symptoms in the weeks before the boy had gotten sick. But the child's family, caretaker and other close contacts did not get sick, according to the report.

In Pennsylvania, a girl younger than 5 who had visited an agricultural fair August 16, when she had direct exposure to pigs and other animals, came down with a fever, nonproductive cough and lethargy four days later. She had also received a flu vaccine in September.

It does not appear that either child transmitted the virus to anyone else. Scientists have not found any link between the two patients. The influenza viruses they had are similar but not identical and carry a unique genetic combination never seen before. It includes bits of genetic material from the 2009 H1N1 virus, which is itself a recombination of material from other types of flu. This is not surprising: Reassortment of genetic materials from the 2009 flu virus and other swine flu viruses has been seen before, according to the report.

"We think the impact will be very marginal. There's no evidence that these viruses are spreading," Schaffner said.

There have been about 22 human cases since 2005 of influenza that originated from pigs, CDC officials said.

"These events occur rarely and are now being detected with greater frequency because we have this incredible laboratory capacity to actually diagnose these sorts of infections, which we didn't have years ago," Schaffner said.

Rather than worrying about such rare pig-human transmission events, adults and children over 6 months old should get flu vaccines to protect against more common forms of influenza in humans. A single shot now protects against standard flu and the 2009 H1N1 virus (although children 6 months to 9 years of age need two doses four or more weeks apart during their first season of vaccination.) Here's more from the CDC on flu and children.


soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. IT'SATRAP!

    Now pork is going to be recalled, ALL OF IT!!

    September 2, 2011 at 17:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Name

      ALL SWINE MUST BURN!!!

      September 2, 2011 at 18:02 | Report abuse |
  2. KC

    I was in Germany when the swine flu hit there. They killed every pig in the country to try and stop the virus. My stepfather and I stopped at the local Kris Kringle mart in Augburg for a bratwurst sandwhich and we were told that the meat was from outside of Germany. He was sick for over 4 months and he almost died. The virus attacked his system and no medication helped him.
    He ended up beating it but he still has issues with his spine and nervous system. This isn't a joke and shouldn't be taken as one.

    September 2, 2011 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Adam

      That's definitely not related to your father getting sick from a bratwurst.

      September 2, 2011 at 18:51 | Report abuse |
    • Monica

      Christkindlmarkt, for crying out loud. The annual market set up, usually in the downtown areas, in December, for the sale of goods and treats related to Christmas. I agree with the other poster, not likely at all that he caught swine flu from a cooked brat. Something else entirely. My mother happens to live near Schweinfurt, and said that time of year is a typical slaughtering time, and did not hear of any mass slaughtering due to the flu. Please don't sensationalize where there is no reason to.

      September 2, 2011 at 23:38 | Report abuse |
    • Valentijn

      Utterly impossible to catch the flu from dead cooked meat. Try again!

      September 3, 2011 at 04:17 | Report abuse |
  3. Doctorinthehouse

    All viruses can be traced to animals.

    September 2, 2011 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • P P

      A lot can be traced to the 'human animal'

      September 2, 2011 at 17:53 | Report abuse |
  4. @KC

    What your stepfather had has nothing to do with what they're talking about. The story is about contracting the flu from a live pig while what your talking about is some form of food borne illness that's a completely different form of bacteria!

    September 2, 2011 at 18:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Nate

    To KC ....What your stepfather had has nothing to do with what they're talking about. The story is about contracting the flu from a live pig while what your talking about is some form of food borne illness that's a completely different form of bacteria!

    September 2, 2011 at 18:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. VaccineTrap

    What cr@p! Am I the only one that noticed BOTH THESE POOR KIDS WERE VACCINATED!

    A) They don't work
    B) They weaken you & actually PROMOTE illness!

    September 2, 2011 at 18:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Adam

      You are wrong. Vaccinations are effective. THey have been proven by scientific evidence over and over. They don't weaken your immune system. The flu vaccine only protects against certain types of flu as the antigens change from year to year. Therefore they can't predict that some country folk are going to catch a pig flu and put that in the vaccine.

      September 2, 2011 at 18:53 | Report abuse |
    • Lou

      Oh really Adam? Papers please....

      By the way, flu vaccines are created because of vitamin D deficiency during the winter that they apparently did not know about. Not only that, vitamin D works against most if not all strains of flu, cold, etc.

      I'd still vaccinate against serious ones like polio, small pox, etc but the mild ones that may have had to do with widespread vitamin D deficiency? Time will tell but a RANDOM CONTROLLED STUDY already showed that vitamin D does help protect against flu at a modest amount of vitamin D (1,200 IU for the kids). We will find out over the next 5-10 years as research on vitamin D continue to pour in... Vitamin D is very cost effective compared to anything else... BY FAR.

      September 4, 2011 at 19:06 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Shocker! It's Lou the Peddler pushing his product yet again.

      Tell us who's paying your salary, Lou.

      September 5, 2011 at 09:26 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Vaccines work. The only people who think that they "weaken the immune system" are people who understand nothing about the immune system OR vaccines.

      In other words, ignoramuses who like being uninformed and uneducated.

      September 5, 2011 at 09:32 | Report abuse |
  7. Just a Dog

    Here we go again....what happened to the last few epidemics? Mad Cow, Bird Flu...etc

    September 2, 2011 at 18:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • doubler

      Don't forget SARS and West Nile.

      September 2, 2011 at 18:55 | Report abuse |
  8. nuckinfuts

    look mommie! its rosie O'Donnell

    September 2, 2011 at 18:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. sunny lovetts

    CNN WILL NOT REPORT THIS AT ALL!

    LIBYAN REBELS ARE LITERALLY MASSACRING BLACKS IN LIBYA!
    THEY ARE ALSO PUTTING THEM BY THE THOUSANDS IN MAKESHIFT PRISON CAMPS!

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    September 2, 2011 at 18:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • berto

      What does that have to do with viruses being transmitted to humans?

      September 2, 2011 at 19:34 | Report abuse |
  10. Merecat

    Oink... Oink..

    September 2, 2011 at 19:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Dant

    KC.Pigs and stepfathers dont mix.

    September 3, 2011 at 23:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. sarah

    The children were vaccinated and got sick and yet the CDC pushes for even more vaccination of kids over 6 months. Incredible. How about considering the possibility that maybe, just maybe, the children contracted this from the vaccine!

    September 4, 2011 at 10:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rachel

      9 months later?

      September 5, 2011 at 03:10 | Report abuse |
  13. Bret

    "No one actually caught it from a pig; it's transmitted from person to person. "

    Come on now, just a little research if you please, July 2009:

    "The day after their work in the barn, the workers developed sore throats, followed by symptoms of cough, fatigue, sweats, and headache. Test results on May 7 confirmed the pair had contracted H1N1."

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2009/07/20/swine-flu-inspectors-improper-gear-virus-calgary.html

    September 4, 2011 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Zoe

    Of course its from the vaccines. They are BAD!

    September 5, 2011 at 11:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nonsense.

      September 5, 2011 at 12:32 | Report abuse |
  15. RGDubz

    only idiots take flu vaccines, period.

    I don't & I've not been sick.

    September 5, 2011 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Look up "anecdotal", witless.

      September 5, 2011 at 19:52 | Report abuse |
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    I know that you haven't got to know all of us.

    September 6, 2011 at 05:06 | Report abuse | Reply
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