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New Swine Flu Strain Keeps Health Officials on Alert

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A new swine flu strain has infected 10 Americans since the summer, and health authorities, both here and abroad, are on the alert for more cases.

The new flu strain combines parts of a rare influenza virus — H3N2 – circulating in North American pigs, and the H1N1 virus from the 2009 worldwide flu outbreak. New flu strains develop when flu viruses combine in new ways. They can pose health risks because people haven’t yet developed immunity to them.

Since July, nine U.S. children and a 58-year-old U.S. man have been sickened by the new swine flu strain – S-OtrH3N2 — which picked up a gene from the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic, according to the CDC.

“Everybody is watching,” Jeff Dimond, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said Tuesday.

Hong Kong’s Center for Health Protection will follow ongoing U.S. surveillance and heed any advice from the World Health Organization, according to a statement issued Tuesday. WHO is currently working on a public health response should the virus continue spreading.

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