Findings may have implications for pandemic flu planning
Farmers, veterinarians and meat processors who routinely come into contact with pigs in their jobs have a markedly increased risk of infection with flu viruses that infect pigs, according to a study funded in part by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). While the findings are not entirely unexpected, the strikingly higher risk of infection coupled with the fact that pigs can be infected by swine viruses, bird (avian) viruses as well as human flu viruses--thereby acting as a virtual virus "mixing bowl," especially on farms where pigs, chickens and people coexist--is a potential public health concern, the study authors assert. The paper appears online this week in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
"Pigs play a role in transmitting influenza virus to humans," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "The worry is that if a pig were to become simultaneously infected with both a human and an avian influenza virus, genes from these viruses could reassemble into a new virus that could be transmitted to and cause disease in people."
Kathy Stover | EurekAlert!
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