Influenza viruses pose a threat to human health because of their potential to cause global disease. Between mid March and mid April a pandemic influenza A virus emerged in Mexico. This report details 202 cases of infection of humans with the 2009 influenza A virus (H1N1)v which occurred in Mexico City as well as the spread of the virus throughout the entire country.
The emergence of a novel pandemic human strain of influenza A (H1N1/09) virus in April 2009 has demonstrated the need for well-validated diagnostic tests that are broadly applicable, rapid, sensitive, and specific. The analytical performance and clinical validity of results generated with the novel Roche RealTime Ready Influenza A/H1N1 Detection Set using the LightCycler 2.0 instrument were characterized. Analytical performance was assessed by processing respiratory samples spiked with H1N1/09 and seasonal influenza A virus, a set of seasonal influenza A virus subtypes, and samples containing common viral and bacterial respiratory pathogens. The clinical validity of results was assessed in comparison to other assays by analyzing 359 specimens at three clinical sites and one reference laboratory. Direct sequencing was used to resolve samples with discrepant results. The assay detected virus concentrations down to <50 RNA copies per reverse transcription (RT)-quantitative PCR (qPCR). Various influenza A virus subtypes were covered. The analytical specificity was 100%. High clinical validity was demonstrated by the 99% positive agreement between seasonal influenza A viruses, 98% positive agreement between H1N1/09 viruses, and 88% agreement between negative results. The analytical sensitivity was compared to those of three other RT-qPCR assays and was found to be equivalent. The novel Roche RealTime Ready Influenza A/H1N1 Detection Set can be utilized on the widely used LightCycler platform. We demonstrate its usefulness for the rapid detection and surveillance of pandemic H1N1/09 influenza A virus infections.
In March 2009, public health surveillance detected increased numbers of influenza-like illness presenting to hospitals in Mexico City. The aetiological agent was subsequently determined to be a novel influenza A (H1N1) triple reassortant, which has spread worldwide. As a consequence the World Health Organisation has declared the first Influenza pandemic of the 21st century.
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