Swine flu scare in summer? Researchers discover new strain in India as H1N1 cases continue to rise
The Michigan strain, which has been in circulation in the USA for the last two years, has been identified in Hyderabad and other other parts of India.
New Delhi: Looks like you need to take extra precautionary measures to keep diseases at bay, particularly swine flu.
In spite of mercury crossing the 40 degrees C mark, various states, including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Karnataka are seeing a sudden surge in swine flu cases and even deaths, which are being attributed to a new strain of novel human influenza virus (H1N1) in the country.
Earlier this year, researchers from the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune have found that a new strain of the virus - called the Michigan strain - has been circulating since September 2016. The findings were based on the WHO's vaccine recommendations for 2017-18 for India and other countries in the northern hemisphere. WHO had hinted at a genetic diversification of the novel human influenza virus.
Thus the Michigan strain, which has been in circulation in the USA for the last two years, has been identified in Hyderabad and other other parts of India.
Prior to the discovery of Michigan strain, the strain that has been existing in India and causing health scare thus far, since 2009 pandemic is California (vaccine strain is Acalifornia72009).
For 2018, WHO recommended a new H1N1 vaccine strain - A/Michigan/45/2015 - to replace A/California/7/2009, which has been in use as a vaccine strain since the 2009.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which runs the NIV, said they will be recommending a new vaccine for this flu season as the existing flu vaccine may be ineffective against the new strain.
While prevalance of swine flu during summer is a cause of concern since the virus may become tolerant to intense heat, ICMR said they are monitoring the situation closely.
So far, more than 5,000 people have tested positive for the swine flu infection and over 100 people have died across the country this year.