Scientists in Brazil has identified the first genetic variant of the novel influenza A (H1N1) from a patient who was hospitalized in Sao Paulo in, according to Medical News Today’s report on June 17.
The new strain came from a sample isolated from a 26-year old Sao Paulo man who started to have symptoms of flu shortly after returning from Mexico. He was hospitalized on April 24 and has since made a full recovery. While in hospital the patient gave a sample for analysis.
Scientists say they don't know if the new strain causes more severe infections.
A team at the Instituto Adolfo Lutz in Sao Paulo, led by virologist Dr Terezinha Maria de Paiva, isolated the new strain from this sample at the end of April.
The newly mutated virus is being called A/Sao Paulo/1454/H1N1. The mutation comprised of alterations in the Hemagglutinin protein which allows the virus to infect new hosts.
Using electron microscopes, another team at Instituto Adolfo Lutz, led by Cecilia Luiza Simoes, looked at nucleotide sequences in the new strain. And the complete nucleotide sequences for the protein Hemagglutinin (HA), which is responsible for virus infectivity and triggers the production of antibodies in the human immune system, and the matrix proteins (MP) segments have been published in GenBank, the American open access gene sequence database.
On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 6 in response to the ongoing global spread of the novel influenza to A (H1N1) virus.
As of WHO's report on June 19, more than 70 countries are now reporting 44,287cases of human infection of the novel H1N1 flu with 180 deaths.
As the Southern Hemisphere is entering winter now, whereas production for the swine flu virus vaccine is still months away from completion, so this could potentially cause an even more deadly strain of the novel flu and it could mutate as it encounters other flu strains as they assimilate their genetic material.