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New swine flu strain appears in San Diego

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The CDC has mustered a group of 50 scientists and epidemiologists to study a rare new strain of swine flu that afflicted two children in the San Diego area last month. But health officials stress that neither case was the result of contact with pigs or contact between the two children, conditions that would have raised fears of a possible pandemic.

Researchers have concluded that the new strain is the apparent product of gene re-assortment, which happens when two strains of flu infect a cell and create a hybrid. This new San Diego version of swine flu contains strains of North American as well as Eurasian origin.

Back in 1976 the federal government ordered up enough vaccine to guard millions of the elderly and other vulnerable people after 13 soldiers at Fort Dix were struck with swine flu. One of those soldiers died. But health officials are cautiously optimistic that they won't face a pandemic threat now.

"While we have a low index of suspicion that this is a pandemic, we're being very careful in our investigation to rule out every possibility," the CDC's Lyn Finelli told the Washington Post.

- read the article in the Washington Post

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