SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – Scientists now have a better picture of how dangerous, even deadly the H1N1 virus can be, especially for pregnant women.

The Centers for Disease Control has just released new findings on the 2009 swine flu pandemic. The report found 362 pregnant and postpartum women had severe infections. The vast majority of those infected ended up in the hospital Intensive Care Unit – 84 died.

“The swine flu was very scary for pregnant women,” said Dr. Elliott Main.

Dr. Main is the head of Obstetrics at California Pacific Medical Center.

He said a number of pregnant women in California were adversely impacted by H1N1, and that the new movie Contagion raises an important point about influenza viruses: that they live to mutate.

“You’re never out of the woods with influenza because it changes every year,” said Dr. Main.

In fact, one case in point, the CDC is seeing a brand new strain of swine flu emerging. Unlike flu viruses that have jumped from animals to humans, this one contains DNA from the human H1N1 swine flu pandemic.

So far, three children in the U.S. have been infected, all are girls, and all attended an agricultural fair in Pennsylvania. Two of the youngsters have recovered, 1 is still recovering. The illnesses don’t appear at this point to be serious.

The source is most likely a pig. One of the girls had direct contact with swine at the fair.

The pig was most likely infected with two viruses, a pig virus and the human H1N1 virus. Those viruses swapped DNA, and produced this new hybrid mutation.

It’s unclear whether this virus can be spread from person to person, so it’s far from a promise of another pandemic.

Even so, the best offense is a good defense. Public health experts are urging the public to make sure they get an annual flu shot. This flu season will contain 3 human strains, including the 2009 H1N1 swine flu.

For more information on the California H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic Response:

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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