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News 1709 views last update:Sep 18, 2012

RESEARCH: Persistent threat of swine flu viruses

Underscoring the paramount importance of continued surveillance, a Korean-US research team have published in the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences a study identifying how an H1N2 swine influenza strain that spreads through respiratory droplets-without direct contact and under the radar.

The researchers tested the effects of four swine flu viruses isolated in Korea, and exposed them to groups of ferrets, which are considered a suitable animal model for human flu.

Secondary infections in the ferrets were found to spread even more rapidly, and already having evolved two mutations in a single passage.

These findings support the continuing threat of some field triple-reassortant swine viruses to human and animal health, reviving concerns on the capacity of pigs to create future pandemic viruses. Apart from warranting continued and enhanced global surveillance, this study also provides evidence on the emerging roles of HA225G and NA315N as potential virulence markers in mammals.

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