Background. Variant influenza virus infections are rare but may have pandemic potential if person-to-person transmission is efficient. We describe the epidemiology of a multistate outbreak of an influenza A(H3N2) variant virus (H3N2v) first identified in 2011.Methods. We identified laboratory-confirmed cases of H3N2v and used a standard case report form to characterize illness and exposures. We considered illness to result from person-to-person H3N2v transmission if swine contact was not identified within 4 days prior to illness onset.Results. From 9 July to 7 September 2012, we identified 306 cases of H3N2v in 10 states. The median age of all patients was 7 years. Commonly reported signs and symptoms included fever (98%), cough (85%), and fatigue (83%). Sixteen patients (5.2%) were hospitalized, and 1 fatal case was identified. The majority of those infected reported agricultural fair attendance (93%) and/or contact with swine (95%) prior to illness. We identified 15 cases of possible person-to-person transmission of H3N2v. Viruses recovered from patients were 93%-100% identical and similar to viruses recovered from previous cases of H3N2v. All H3N2v viruses examined were susceptible to oseltamivir and zanamivir and resistant to adamantane antiviral medications.Conclusions. In a large outbreak of variant influenza, the majority of infected persons reported exposures, suggesting that swine contact at an agricultural fair was a risk for H3N2v infection. We identified limited person-to-person H3N2v virus transmission, but found no evidence of efficient or sustained person-to-person transmission. Fair managers and attendees should be aware of the risk of swine-to-human transmission of influenza viruses in these settings.
- variant influenza