Emergency Status Line
1-800-445-5830Berkeley Lab Pandemic Flu Information Site
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the current status of the H1N1 pandemic virus?
- What is a Flu Pandemic?
- What steps will LBNL take in the event of a Pandemic?
- How will reduced operations at LBNL affect me?
- What Preventative measures can I take to avoid getting the flu?
- What is H3N2v?
- How can a person catch a flu virus from a pig?
- What are the symptoms of H3N2v?
- Why is CDC concerned about H3N2v?
- Is H3N2v dangerous?
- Is there a vaccine for H3N2v?
- Will this season’s flu vaccine protect me against H3N2v?
- Is there treatment for H3N2v?
- Who is at high risk of serious H3N2v illness?
- Can I get H3N2v from eating pork?
- When did H3N2v start? How many people have been infected?
- Who has been infected by H3N2v?
- What is CDC doing about this situation?
- What should I do if I am at an agricultural fair?
- Should I avoid agricultural fairs where swine are present?
- Should people avoid pigs and swine barns?
- Are there things I should do, even if I’m not around pigs?
- Can you tell if a pig has the flu?
- Is H3N2v the same as the H3N2 flu virus that makes people sick each flu season?
Pandemic Flu is a world-wide outbreak of flu that occurs when a new form of flu virus infects humans and is easily spread from person-to-person. Because a pandemic flu virus is unique, people have no immunity or resistance to it. Three prior flu pandemics occurred in the 20th century, in 1918 ("Spanish Flu"), 1957 ("Asian Flu"), and 1968 ("Hong Kong Flu").
LBNL is drafting an updated Infectious Disease and Pandemic Preparedness and Response which outlines steps that will be taken depending on the severity of the event in local counties and communities. The plan integrates actions by state and local agencies, LBNL leadership to provide guidance to employees about what steps will be necessary to safeguard their health.
LBNL Management, with the help of the Human Resources Department, has developed policies and guidelines for employees in the event of illness or impaired operations at the Lab. Go here for a description of the policies.
Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people. Take everyday precautions to stay healthy.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
- Stay home if you get sick. CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
- Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
- Avoid nonessential travel to areas with high rates of transmission.
H3N2v is a non-human influenza virus that normally circulates in pigs and that has infected humans. Viruses that normally circulate in pigs are “swine influenza viruses.” When these viruses infect humans, they are termed “variant” viruses.
In 2011, a specific H3N2 virus was detected with genes from avian, swine and human viruses and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus M gene. The virus was circulating in pigs in 2010 and was first detected in people in 2011.The acquisition of the 2009 M gene may make this virus infect humans more easily than is typical for other swine influenza viruses. There were 12 human infections with this virus, termed H3N2v, in 2011; most were associated with exposure to pigs. In 2012, H3N2v outbreaks in humans associated with exposure to pigs began in July.See Case Count: Detected U.S. Human Infections with H3N2v by State since August 2011 for information about H3N2v cases, hospitalizations and deaths that have been reported to CDC.
Influenza viruses can spread from pigs to people and from people to pigs. Spread from infected pigs to humans is thought to happen in the same way that seasonal influenza viruses spread between people; mainly through infected droplets created when an infected pig coughs or sneezes. If these droplets land in your nose or mouth, or you inhale them, you can be infected. There also is some evidence that you might get infected by touching something that has virus on it and then touching your own mouth or nose. A third possible way to get infected is to inhale dust containing influenza virus. Scientists aren’t really sure which of these ways of spread is the most common.
Symptoms of H3N2v infection are similar to those of seasonal flu viruses and can include fever and respiratory symptoms, such as cough and runny nose, and possibly other symptoms, such as body aches, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
CDC is concerned about H3N2v for a few reasons.
First, infections with influenza viruses (including variant viruses like H3N2v) can sometimes cause severe disease, even in healthy people. This can include complications (like pneumonia), which can require hospitalization, and sometimes result in death.
Second, this virus seems to spread more easily to humans from pigs than other swine influenza viruses.
Third, influenza viruses are always changing. It’s possible the H3N2v virus could change and begin spreading easily from person to person.
Fourth, studies conducted by CDC have indicated that children younger than 10 years old have little to no immunity against H3N2v virus. (Adults might have more immunity, perhaps because they might have been exposed to similar viruses in their longer lifetimes.)
Currently, the severity of human illness associated with H3N2v resembles that of seasonal flu.
Keep in mind that even seasonal influenza can be a serious disease. Sometimes seasonal influenza can lead to complications (like pneumonia). It also can lead to hospitalization and even death.
Early treatment works better and may be especially important for people with a high risk condition.
If you are prescribed antiviral drugs by your doctor, you should finish all of the medication, according to your doctor’s instructions.
(A full list of people at high risk of flu related complications is available at People at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications.) These same groups of people are thought to be at high risk of developing serious complications from H3N2v infection.
Between August and December 2011, 12 U.S. residents were found to be infected with H3N2v.
In April 2012, a case of H3N2v was detected in a child. Beginning in July 2012, many more cases of H3N2v associated with swine exposure at agricultural fairs were reported to CDC by different states.
See Influenza A (H3N2) Variant Virus Outbreaks for the latest information regarding the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths reported to CDC.
CDC also is monitoring the situation closely. CDC’s Influenza Division is examining the genes of many of the H3N2v viruses that are shipped by state public health laboratories to CDC, to ensure that the virus is not changing in key ways. To date, no significant changes in the H3N2v virus have been detected.
Take Action to Prevent the Spread of Flu Between People and Pigs at Fairs for a list of steps you can take to protect yourself against H3N2v.
In particular, if you are at high risk of serious flu complications, avoid pigs and swine barns at the fair this year.
If you are at high risk of serious flu complications, avoid pigs and swine barns at the fair this year.
high risk for serious flu complications should avoid pigs and swine barns this year.
Key Facts About Swine Influenza (Swine Flu) in Pigs for a list of signs of flu in pigs.
H3N2, also called seasonal influenza A(H3N2), is a human seasonal influenza virus that circulates among people each influenza season in the United States. The 2012-2013 seasonal influenza vaccine provides protection against seasonal influenza A(H3N2). See What You Should Know for the 2012-2013 Flu Season for information about this year’s seasonal flu vaccine.