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Influenza A virus subtype H3N2


H3N2 is a subtype of the influenza A virus. Its name derives from the forms of the two kinds of proteins on the surface of its coat, hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N). H3N2 viruses infect humans and pigs, though in each species the virus has mutated into many strains. H3N2 exchanges genes for internal proteins with other influenza subtypes.

The annual flu (also called "seasonal flu" or "human flu") kills an estimated 36,000 people in the United States each year. Flu vaccines are based on predicting which mutants of H1N1, H3N2, H1N2, and influenza B will proliferate in the next season. Separate vaccines are developed for the northern and southern hemispheres in preparation for their annual epidemics. In the tropics, influenza shows no clear seasonality. In the past ten years, H3N2 has tended to dominate in prevalence over H1N1, H1N2, and influenza B. Measured resistance to the standard antiviral drugs amantadine and rimantadine in H3N2 has increased from 1% in 1994 to 12% in 2003 to 91% in 2005.[1]


Hong Kong Flu

The Hong Kong Flu was a category 2 flu pandemic caused by a strain of H3N2 descended from H2N2 by antigenic shift, in which genes from multiple subtypes reassorted to form a new virus. The Hong Kong Flu pandemic of 1968 and 1969 infected an estimated 500,000 people with a low death rate.[2][3] Fifty million people were infected in the United States, resulting in an estimated 33,000 deaths.[4]

Both the H2N2 and H3N2 pandemic flu strains contained genes from avian influenza viruses. The new subtypes arose in pigs coinfected with avian and human viruses and were soon transferred to humans. Swine were considered the original "intermediate host" for influenza, because they supported reassortment of divergent subtypes. However, other hosts appear capable of similar coinfection (e.g., many poultry species), and direct transmission of avian viruses to humans is possible. H1N1 may have been transmitted directly from birds to humans (Belshe 2005).[5]

The Hong Kong flu strain shared internal genes and the neuraminidase with the 1957 Asian Flu (H2N2). Accumulated antibodies to the neuraminidase or internal proteins may have resulted in much fewer casualties than most pandemics. However, cross-immunity within and between subtypes of influenza is poorly understood.

The Hong Kong flu was the first known outbreak of the H3N2 strain, though there is serologic evidence of H3N? infections in the late 19th century. The first record of the outbreak in Hong Kong appeared on July 13, 1968 in an area with a density of about 500 people per acre in an urban setting. The outbreak reached maximum intensity in 2 weeks, lasting 6 weeks in total. The virus was isolated in Queen Mary Hospital. Flu symptoms lasted 4 to 5 days.[2]

By July 1968, extensive outbreaks were reported in Vietnam and Singapore. By September 1968, it would reach India, Philippines, northern Australia and Europe. That same month, the virus entered US California from returning Vietnam War troops. It would reach Japan, Africa and South America by 1969.[2]

See also

strains named by isolate
strains named by typical host

Further reading

  • Graphic showing H3N2 mutations, amino acid by amino acid, among 207 isolates completely sequenced by the Influenza Genome Sequencing Project.
  • Influenza A (H3N2) Outbreak, Nepal
  • Hot topic - Fujian-like strain A influenza
  • Monitoring Antibodies for Swine Influenza H3N2 Virus
  • Human influenza A(H3N2) activity remains widespread in many countries - update 7
  • Human influenza A/H3N2 activity increases in many countries in central and eastern Europe - update 8
  • Influenza A H3N2
  • New Scientist: Bird Flu


  1. ^ Reason New York Times
  2. ^ a b c Starling, Arthur. [2006] (2006) Plague, SARS, and the Story of Medicine in Hong Kong. HK University Press. ISBN 9622098053
  3. ^ (Detailed chart of its evolution here.)
  4. ^ Digitized Editorial Research Reports By Congressional Quarterly, inc 1986
  5. ^ Chapter Two : Avian Influenza by Timm C. Harder and Ortrud Werner from excellent free on-line Book called Influenza Report 2006 which is a medical textbook that provides a comprehensive overview of epidemic and pandemic influenza.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Influenza_A_virus_subtype_H3N2". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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