Research says swine flu virus infects handlers

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Research says swine flu virus infects handlers

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Nov 01, 2002
By dvm360.com staff
New York-People in the swine industry are infected with swine influenza more often than previously thought, according to a report in a recent issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The finding suggests that pigs could potentially serve as the "hosts" from which mutant flu strains with epidemic potential arise, researchers note.

The study of pig farm workers in Wisconsin, which included veterinarians and residents, found that 17 of 74 had antibodies to swine flu viruses in their blood, indicating an infection. Only one of 114 blood samples taken from the general population harbored such antibodies.

Dr. Christopher W. Olsen and his colleagues explain the species barrier between people and pigs doesn't appear to be stringent.

To see how often pigs might pass flu viruses to humans, Olsen, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his associates tested blood samples from pig farm owners, their families, employees, employees' spouses and farm veterinarians.

Compared with samples from the nearby urban population, people involved in pig farming were far more likely to have antibodies to swine influenza-particularly farm owners and their families, the report indicates.

According to Olsen's team, it is unclear whether infection with a swine flu virus could produce an illness any different from the everyday flu.