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J Virol. 2010 Jan;84(1):21-6. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01732-09.

Transmission of pandemic H1N1 influenza virus and impact of prior exposure to seasonal strains or interferon treatment.

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Department of Microbiology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA.


Novel swine-origin influenza viruses of the H1N1 subtype were first detected in humans in April 2009. As of 12 August 2009, 180,000 cases had been reported globally. Despite the fact that they are of the same antigenic subtype as seasonal influenza viruses circulating in humans since 1977, these viruses continue to spread and have caused the first influenza pandemic since 1968. Here we show that a pandemic H1N1 strain replicates in and transmits among guinea pigs with similar efficiency to that of a seasonal H3N2 influenza virus. This transmission was, however, partially disrupted when guinea pigs had preexisting immunity to recent human isolates of either the H1N1 or H3N2 subtype and was fully blocked through daily intranasal administration of interferon to either inoculated or exposed animals. Our results suggest that partial immunity resulting from prior exposure to conventional human strains may blunt the impact of pandemic H1N1 viruses in the human population. In addition, the use of interferon as an antiviral prophylaxis may be an effective way to limit spread in at-risk populations.

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