In today’s post, we would like to highlight the value of flu surveillance in swine as well as to acknowledge the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (UMN-VDL) as a long-standing and committed contributor to the USDA Voluntary Influenza A Virus (IAV) in Swine Surveillance program. Thanks to this surveillance program, the U.S. swine industry has ample information available for analysis and to support influenza-related research, vaccinology and diagnostics.
The objectives of the USDA Voluntary IAV in Swine Surveillance program are:
- Monitor genetic evolution of endemic influenza in swine to better understand endemic and emerging influenza virus ecology.
- Make available influenza isolates for research and to establish an objective database for genetic analysis of these isolates and related information.
- Select proper isolates for the development of relevant diagnostic reagents, updating diagnostic assays, and vaccine seedstock products.
About one moth ago, a research study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences entitled “Prevalent Eurasian avian-like H1N1 swine influenza virus with 2009 pandemic viral genes facilitating human infection.” The study highlights the identification of an influenza strain that has become predominant in swine populations in China since 2016. The authors interpret this as an influenza strain that has acquired increased infectivity, which may enhance the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans. Altogether, it has raised interest among those in the swine industry and the media regarding any possible implications for both pigs and people.
The USDA Voluntary IAV in Swine Surveillance program has allowed the USDA and CDC to provide a perspective on the impact of IAV on U.S. swine and human populations. The USDA, using funds provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, initiated the surveillance program in 2010. Among other swine populations, the surveillance program targets case-compatible swine accessions submitted to veterinary diagnostic laboratories. This surveillance covers on-farm swine populations exhibiting influenza-like illness. To voluntarily participate in the program, producers, veterinarians, or other personnel who observe pigs exhibiting influenza-like disease on farms collect samples and submit them for routine IAV diagnostic testing. Given the case, nasal swabs, oral fluid, or lung tissues are appropriate samples for influenza testing.
The samples are then analyzed to identify IAV strains. Any positive findings are submitted to GenBank through the Influenza Research Database so they are available for human and animal researchers to further analyze and evaluate. Since 2011, almost 175,000 samples have been submitted to the program resulting in approximately 6,200 virus isolates being placed in the repository. As a member of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (UMN-VDL) has been a long-standing and committed contributor to the USDA Voluntary Influenza A Virus in Swine Surveillance program.
Because swine practitioners play a direct role in the case-compatible swine accessions submitted to veterinary diagnostic laboratories, it is imperative to encourage continued submission of specimens for IAV and other porcine respiratory disease diagnostic testing. It’s important that we all support the program!
For more information, here you have some related links: