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Virology. 1994 Oct;204(1):453-7.

Infection of children with avian-human reassortant influenza virus from pigs in Europe.

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  • 1Department of Virology, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Pigs have been proposed to act as the intermediate hosts in the generation of pandemic human influenza strains by reassortment of genes from avian and human influenza virus strains. The circulation of avian-like H1N1 influenza viruses in European pigs since 1979 and the detection of human-avian reassortants in pigs raises the question of whether these viruses actually have the potential to transmit and cause disease in humans. We now report the serologic and genetic characterization of two human influenza A viruses (A/Netherlands/5/93 [H3N2] and A/Netherlands/35/93 [H3N2]) that caused influenza in children in The Netherlands in 1993. The results show that these viruses are human-avian ressortants that were generated and currently still are circulating in European swine. This shows the pivotal role that pigs can play in the generation and transmission of avian influenza virus genes to humans and their potential to generate a new human pandemic strain.

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