Jun 14, 2012
Researchers track evolution of variant H3N2 in swine samples
In the wake of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the US Department of Agriculture improved influenza surveillance in swine that includes routine sequencing of hemagglutinin (HA), neuraminidase (NA), and M proteins from submitted samples. Researchers have used the results to track recent evolution in swine and the emergence of variant H3N2 (H3N2v) viruses that were found in 12 recent human infections. The findings, published yesterday in the Journal of Virology, are based on an analysis of 674 M segments collected from 2009 through 2011 in North America and 388 viruses that had M, HA, and NA segment sequencing. The group also analyzed HA, NA, and M sequences from eight of the H3N2v viruses from humans. They found prolific reassortment of the pandemic M segment into a range of genetic backbones, which gave rise to the novel combination of H3, N2, and M segments in swine that has spread widely in North American pigs since 2009, especially during the latter half of 2011, when the viruses turned up in humans. However, they noted that frequency of the variants in swine isn't high enough to explain the number of H3N2v infections in humans. Researchers noted that the H3 from the variant virus was transmitted from humans to swine during the 1990s and that the N2 was more recently acquired from humans in 2001-02, which might explain why mainly children have been infected with the variant.
Jun 13 J Virol abstract
Egypt produces first locally made avian flu vaccine for poultry
Egypt's National Research Centre has developed the first locally produced H5N1 avian flu vaccine for poultry, the Egyptian Gazette reported yesterday. The vaccine is targeted specifically to the H5N1 strain circulating in Egyptian poultry and is as much as 95% effective in combating that strain, compared with the 20% to 25% effectiveness of imported vaccine for which the nation has been paying "high prices," the story said. Two contractors have been signed to mass produce the vaccine, which sells for about 60 cents a dose.