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With flu season quickly approaching and cases of the very rare H3N2 virus on the rise, this will be a season of concern for the past 18 years. The wave of activity began last October in the Midwest, and included people of all ages. The major risk of H3N2 in New Jersey was marked by acute respiratory illness, wheezing, and coughing. Most had mild symptoms, although some have reported increasing difficulty breathing, hypertension, as well as life-threatening respiratory failure.
A separate H3N2 virus outbreak in New York City has also been occurring for over 18 months, and it has reportedly sickened thousands and resulted in life-threatening reactions. Nearly 200 cases of acute respiratory illness, including pneumonia, were reported in as many as six ambulances in 2017. The outbreaks have occurred in New York City during the daytime, as children are typically the most likely to be exposed to the virus when school activities are underway.
There are also documented cases of H3N2 in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and in upstate New York.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that “immediate caution should be exercised”. It explained that “a pandemic of H3N2 is highly likely”.
In a release from 2017, the CDC noted that H3N2 has been “increasing in activity since October 2016, particularly in the United States”.
Although it’s true that the H3N2 virus is not nearly as deadly as the H1N1 virus that swept through the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks in 2001, the spread of the H3N2 virus is “cause for concern”. The CDC noted that “there is no evidence to suggest that additional geographic areas in the United States will become infected with H3N2 virus. For this reason, health care providers should continue to vaccinate people against H3N2 (or other flu viruses) and monitor for additional cases.”
Concerning this year’s H3N2 outbreak, health officials are monitoring the progression of the disease in case it is transmittable from humans to animals, or from animals to humans. It’s known that H3N2 spreads to people from infected and healthy individuals and possibly by coughing, sneezing, or by touching an object contaminated with H3N2 virus. Health officials warn that “as the virus adapts, new strains may emerge and spread”.
FOX Nation Senior Correspondent Kevin Appleby has the latest health news and other exclusive reports on the FOX Nation App. Also, click here to watch episode two of the live segment “Shifting Teeth” with comedian Darrell Hammond from this morning.