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Absence of 2011 H1N1 Texas Sequences Raise Concerns
Recombinomics Commentary 19:30
March 28, 2011

The H1N1 influenza outbreak that affects the state of Chihuahua originated in Texas and New Mexico, said yesterday the governor Cesar Duarte Jaquez.

"It is confirmed that the lady who died recently in capital Chihuahua came from a Texas trip, just as those who are infected in Ciudad Juárez are all related to a trip to the United States, or have had contact with U.S. citizens "he said.

From January to date in the state of Texas have identified 226 cases of H1N1...

The above translation suggests that the outbreak in Chihuahua in northern Mexico was linked to H1N1 circulating in Texas and New Mexico in 2011.  However, the CDC has not released any 2011 H1N1 sequences from either state.  The only public sequence from either state, A/Texas/14/2010,  was collected on November 30, 2010. 

The CDC has access to samples from both states, as well as samples collected by the Air Force as part of a surveillance program based in Brooks AFB in Texas, yet the only public pandemic H1N1 sequences from Air Force program are from the 2009/2010 season.

The absence of sequences from these states raises serious pandemic concerns.  Although WHO declared an end to the 2009 pandemic in August, 2010, H1N1 continues to circulate.  Recently, H1N1 has begun to evolve at an increased rate.  This evolution has been associated with vaccine failures and dominance of sub-clades with receptor binding domain changes, including S188T and S186P.

The absence of swine sequences related to the 2009 pandemic was notable, and demonstrated a clear shortcoming of H1N1 surveillance in swine.  The absence of Texas sequences from the 2010/2011 season raises serious surveillance concerns, which is exacerbated by the withholding of 2011.

This lack of transparency, couple with the decision to leave the 2011/2012 H1N1 vaccine target unchanged continues to be hazardous to the world’s health.

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