April 29, 2009

BREAKING: Flu May Be 100% Swine
This intriguing notice posted to the International Society for Infectious Diseases by Columbia University researchers suggests that the current swine flu outbreak may be a "reassortment" (i.e. rearrangement) of existing swine flu viruses and not a swine, avian, and human influenza combo:
The preliminary analysis using all the sequences in public databases (NCBI) suggests that all segments are of swine origin. NA and MP seem related to Asian/European swine and the rest to North American swine (H1N2 and H3N2 swine viruses isolated since 1998). There is also interesting substratification between these groups, suggesting a multiple reassortment.

We are puzzled about sources of information that affirm that the virus is a reassortment of avian, human and swine viruses. It is true that the H3N2 swine virus from 1998 and 1999 is a triple reassortant, but all the related isolates are found since then in swine.
We'll see if this analysis holds up and it certainly doesn't guarantee that the outbreak will be any easier to contain, but it does suggest that the current flu -- at the moment -- is not the triple-threat that it was reported to be. Stay tuned...

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Anonymous El Dragon said...

That's powerhouse, actually. It makes the CAFO ground zero argument far more likely, since you don't have to explain how the virus commingled with a poultry immune system.

Very difficult to do that in the 100% pig environment of a CAFO.

Blogger Walter Jeffries said...

We're still left with the problem that they're not finding it in pigs. I'm not defending CAFOs in the slightest but in our rush to attack them we need to be careful not to miss the real culprit. It could end up stabbing us in the back.

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