Humans may give swine flu to pigs in new twist to pandemic

July 9, 2009

The strain of influenza, A/H1N1, that is currently pandemic in humans has been shown to be infectious to pigs and to spread rapidly in a trial pig population.

In research published today in , Dr Thomas Vahlenkamp and a team of virologists from the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut in Greifswald-Insel Riems, Germany, experimentally infected five with the strain of that is causing the current human pandemic. Within four days the virus had spread to three un-infected pigs housed with the infected ones and all pigs were showing clinical signs of swine flu.

"Although in the early stages of the there were worries that humans would catch the virus from pigs, this has so far not been documented and pigs and other animals have not been involved in the current spread of A/H1N1 influenza in humans," said Dr Vahlenkamp, "However, with the increasing numbers of human infections, a spill over of this to pigs is becoming more likely. The prevention of human-to-pig transmissions should have a high priority in order to avoid involvement of pigs in the epidemiology of this pandemic".

Although the virus spread quickly to the non-infected pigs, it did not spread to five chickens that were housed together with the pigs. This may imply that while the virus can pass from human to pig it does not pass from pig to chicken. The experiments were done under strict containment conditions (Biosafety Level BSL3+), to prevent any further transmission of the virus from the infected pigs.

The scientists recommend that persons who are suspected of having swine flu should not be allowed to have contact with pigs and that regulatory bodies should agree on appropriate restriction measures for swine holdings where A/H1N1 infection is detected. Experiments are underway to determine whether currently available vaccines may be able to provide pigs with a certain immunity to stop a potential spread of the .

Source: Society for General Microbiology

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4 comments

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COOLTYCHO
not rated yet Jul 09, 2009
What goes around, comes around lil piggies!
Velanarris
5 / 5 (1) Jul 09, 2009
Blame chickens and ducks, they started it.
gmurphy
5 / 5 (1) Jul 10, 2009
right back at ya piggies!
Mr_Frontier
not rated yet Jul 10, 2009
You're the man now, Pig.

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