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CDC Preparing Vaccine for New Swine Flu

Only 29 human cases of a new strain of "swine" flu have been identified in two years, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is making sure it's prepared should the H3N2 strain become more widespread.

"This virus is still principally a swine virus, but it doesn't seem to have onward spread. It's still not a human virus," Dr. Joseph Bresee, from the CDC's influenza division, stressed during a noon press conference Friday.

"Even so, a H3N2 candidate vaccine has been prepared and clinical trials are being planned for this year," he said.

The reason the CDC is concerned about this particular virus is that it contains an element seen in the pandemic 2009 swine flu strain, H1N1, which may make it more likely for the virus to spread from person-to-person.

All 29 cases were infected with strains of H3N2 "that contained the matrix (m) gene from the influenza A H1N1 pandemic virus," Bresee explained. "This 'm' gene may confer increased transmissibility to and among humans, compared with other variant influenzas viruses."
 
 

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