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Saturday, June 19, 2010

CIDRAP : Chinese researchers give details on swine-pandemic flu hybrid

Via Cidrap :

" Jun 17, 2010 : Adding more details about a finding announced in February, Chinese researchers said today that a hybrid virus found in Hong Kong pigs contains elements of the 2009 human pandemic flu virus and two swine flu strains, pointing up a need for better surveillance of flu viruses in pigs.

In an article in Science, the researchers said the findings show that the pandemic virus, which originated in pigs, is capable of going back into pigs and trading genes with other flu viruses, raising the risk of generating more virulent strains. Pigs have long been regarded as mixing vessels for flu viruses, because they can be infected with human and avian as well as swine strains.

"The 2009 pandemic [virus], although mild and apparently contained at present, could undergo further reassortment in swine and gain virulence," says the report by researchers from Hong Kong University and Shantou University Medical College in China.

The virus was found in early January in the course of routine surveillance of pigs at a Hong Kong slaughterhouse, according to the report. It contained a neuraminidase gene derived from the 2009 pandemic virus, a hemagglutinin gene from a European lineage of "avian-like" swine flu viruses, and six internal genes from a swine flu group known as triple-reassortant H1N2.

The scientists said pigs that were experimentally infected with the reassortant virus became mildly ill and spread the virus to other pigs. Analysis of the virus's amino acid sequences indicates that it is likely to be resistant to the adamantane antiviral drugs but susceptible to oseltamivir, as is true of the pandemic virus, the article says.

Testing has shown that antibodies generated by the H1N1 pandemic vaccine and through infection with the pandemic virus do not cross-react with the reassortant strain, the researchers write."

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