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Humans Can Spread Swine Flu To Pigs

July 10, 2009

The current strain of the infectious H1N1 virus that began among the swine population appears to be transmittable from humans to pigs as well, researchers reported on Thursday.

Writing in the Journal of General Virology, Dr Thomas Vahlenkamp and colleagues from the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut in Greifswald-Insel Riems, Germany, found that humans are able to infect pigs with the disease, and that the infection appears to spread rapidly.

“Although in the early stages of the swine flu pandemic 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 human virus to pigs is becoming more likely. Researchers injected five 10-week-old pigs with the human strain of the H1N1 virus. The five pigs were then placed with three pigs that had not been infected.”

They noted that the uninfected pigs were infected just four days after being housed with their infected counterparts.

There have been previous reports of the virus being passed from humans to pigs, but the new research confirms that it is possible and it can occur at a rapid pace.

“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,” said Dr Vahlenkamp.

Researchers did note, however, that the virus did not spread among five chickens that were placed along with the pigs.

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