Wednesday, December 2, 2009

CDC Addresses Reports of Changes in the 2009 H1N1 Virus

As of November 24, 2009, there have been occasional reports of small changes in the genes of some virus samples collected from some people infected with 2009 H1N1 in several countries, most recently in Norway.

The public health implications of these changes are currently being studied by CDC and WHO scientists, but preliminary results at this time imply that, these changes appear to occur sporadically and spontaneously. No links between the small number of patients infected with 2009 H1N1 virus with these changes have been found, and viruses with these changes do not appear to be spreading to other people. According to the CDC, although further investigation is underway, there is no evidence that these changes in the 2009 H1N1 virus have lead to an unusual increase in the number of 2009 H1N1 infections or to a greater number of severe or fatal cases. Worldwide, these changes have been found in mild cases of 2009 H1N1 illness as well as severe cases of illness that have resulted in death. As a result, the public health significance of this finding remains unclear.

According to CDC and WHO experts, the 2009 H1N1 vaccine will still protect against these viruses, and there will not be any changes in the effectiveness of antiviral drugs to treat the illness.

Countries in addition to Norway that have reported these changes include Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Uruguay and the United States.

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