Everyone is blaming H1N1, but could a different strain of Influenza be the cause of Mexican deaths? Clinica - a news source for the medical technology industry - wonders what implications that would have for Mexico and the rest of the world.
Clinica is investigating the details and significance of Mexican health ministry statements that the H2N3 influenza virus was responsible for the majority of cases tested in an influenza outbreak in early April, three weeks before H1N1 came on the scene.
The existence of an additional strain of the disease would raise fundamental questions concerning the management of the swine flu epidemic internationally.
Comments made by Mexican health minister José Angel Córdova Villalobos during an April 27 press conference refer to the investigation of an outbreak reported in Perote, Veracruz, on April 2. The response on that day is said to have triggered a local alert and that in looking for the influenza virus, the majority of cases tested were H2N3.
Clinica said they have not been able to ascertain from the health ministry the details behind these assertions, and that they await a response from the World Health Organization (WHO) to a request for feedback related to the presence or otherwise of H2N3 in Mexico, and the potential implications.
In terms of national pandemic control policies, the UK's Health Protection Agency said that its current screening of suspected cases is being targeted at detecting H1N1 and that, in not monitoring H2N3, the presence of this virus would not be revealed automatically.
What would be the implications of undiscovered H2N3 infection, such as in cleared suspected cases of H1N1? Would the co-presence of H2N3 fill in the ongoing gaps in understanding of H1N1's higher mortality rates in Mexico?