A dual infection of swine flu and seas-onal influenza was detected among two people in Cambodia in 2009, a study showed this month, in what was termed a “rare incidence”.
The study, published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene this month, revealed a “co-infection” of the H1N1 influenza and a seasonal flu known as H3N2 in a Cambodian boy and his teacher, according to a press release from the same publication.
The “co-infection” did not produce a new strain of the flu virus, though experts said in the statement that it was important to monitor such occurrences in the region because of the ongoing transmission of avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, and the H1N1 influenza outbreak of 2009.
“Finding a co-infection in an area where there is considerable seasonal flu, pandemic flu and H5N1 avian flu shows there is an opportunity for co-mingling in swine or human hosts,” Patrick Blair, director of respiratory diseases at the US Naval Health Research Centre and co-author of the study, said.
However Nima Asgari, public health specialist at the World Health Organisation in Phnom Penh, told the Post yesterday that the research was not “groundbreaking” and it was not unusual for a person to have two types of influenza virus at the same time.
“[The study] was highlighting one of the processes involved where you might develop pandemic strain influenza viruses,” he said.
“It is possible that if you get certain types of virus that are lethal … and that somehow there is a recombination of the DNA in the virus then it’s possible that that virus in addition to its lethality [theoretically] becomes a very easily spreadable virus in humans.”