The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and 4-H to develop “The Junior Disease Detectives: Operation Outbreak,” a graphic novel intended to educate youth audiences about variant flu and the disease detective work required when outbreaks of infectious diseases occur.
Variant flu infections normally circulate in swine and can cause disease in people. While rare, the infections can sometimes lead to serious, even fatal illness.
The CDC says most variant flu infections occur in children exposed to infected pigs or their environments in such fair settings.
The novel’s release coincides with a report by the CDC of four new variant virus infections associated with attendance at agricultural fairs in California and Michigan.
All four patients were children under 18 years of age, according to the CDC, were not hospitalized, and are recovering or have fully recovered from their illness. No human-to-human transmission has been identified. These are the first A(H1N2)v virus infections detected in the United States in 2018.
Early identification and investigation of human infections with novel influenza A viruses are critical so that the risk of infection can be more fully understood and appropriate public health measures can be taken, according to the CDC.
When influenza viruses from different species infect pigs, the viruses can reassort, that is, swap genes, and new viruses that are a mix of swine, human and/or avian influenza viruses can emerge, according to the CDC.
At this time, according to the CDC, there are three main influenza A virus subtypes that have been isolated in pigs in the United States: H1N1, H1N2, and H3N2.
The graphic novel follows a group of teenage 4-H members who participate in a state agricultural fair and later attend CDC’s Disease Detective Camp in Atlanta.
When one of the boys becomes sick following the fair, the rest of the group use their newly-acquired disease detective knowledge to help a team of public and animal health experts solve the mystery of how their friend became ill.
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