Update: New swine flu strain found in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore

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Researchers announced yesterday that they discovered a new strain of swine flu (H1N1) in Singapore in early 2010 that has since spread to Australia and New Zealand. The new flu variant may require the development of an updated seasonal flu vaccine sooner than expected. They are not certain yet whether the mutated virus is more virulent than the H1N1 strain responsible for last year s pandemic which was declared over in August by the World Health Organization (WHO) but according to a new report by the WHO Collaborating Center for Reference and Research on Influenza, it has infected and killed a number of people already vaccinated with the latest flu shot.

ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan is not surprised. It s almost certain that the flu virus will mutate and infect many people each year, she says.

Adds ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross, This is why we need a new flu vaccine each year. The mere occurrence of a new variant of the H1N1 flu is quite expected in fact, I m surprised this didn t happen earlier. If the new variant is more dangerous than the 2009 strain, a new vaccine may have to be rushed into production much like what happened in 2009 when this H1N1 was first encountered.