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Understanding swine flu’s diversity key to better control programs

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The number of swine influenza cases as well as the diversity of circulating flu viruses have increased in the past several years, based on experience at Iowa State’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Phillip Gauger, DVM, associate professor at the university, told Pig Health Today.

Swine influenza is an RNA virus, which makes it prone to constant change in one of two ways. The virus either undergoes antigenic drift — natural mutations — or antigenic shift, which occurs when segments from two different viruses come together to form a new genome, Gauger explained.

Both processes contribute significantly to the antigenic diversity seen in the field and make swine flu harder to control. Each of the two major subtypes of swine flu — H1 and H3 — have different genetic “clades” or groups.  It’s important to know which clade is circulating on a farm so the best decisions can be made regarding vaccination, he said, noting that more veterinarians are obtaining genetic sequencing of flu viruses.

Even though there are genetic differences in the swine flu strains circulating, they tend to present similarly with coughing and respiratory distress — but there are some differences, depending on various factors. For instance, endemic infections tend to come on slowly and manifest primarily in the nursery, while new viruses — or new clades — might cause clinically more severe cases.

Gauger also told Pig Health Today about two interactive websites that will help veterinarians diagnose and manage swine flu. One is ISU FLUture, from Iowa State University, and the other is Disease Bioportal, from the University of California–Davis.


Posted on August 3, 2017

tags: , , , ,
  • Genetic diversity makes swine influenza a challenge for producers

    Influenza A virus in swine is one of the primary respiratory pathogens challenging swine production systems in the US and around the world.

  • Veterinarians answer questions on influenza

    With influenza A virus (IAV-S) in swine continuing to cause performance losses on US pig farms, veterinarians have taken up the mantle to find solutions.

  • Take a process-driven approach to influenza control

    US pork producers should strive to produce influenza-negative pigs if they want to see the benefits of increased productivity, reduced secondary infections and antibiotic use, reduced influenza dissemination, decreased influenza diversity and reduced risk of zoonotic...

  • New approaches to influenza control look promising

    Influenza-A virus of swine (IAV-S) is a thorn in the side of US pork producers, and it’s a difficult thorn to remove. If the virus were more pathogenic, veterinarians and producers would probably talk about it more.

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