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J Gen Virol. 2017 Nov;98(11):2663-2675. doi: 10.1099/jgv.0.000924. Epub 2017 Oct 23.

The emergence and evolution of influenza A (H1α) viruses in swine in Canada and the United States.

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1​Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
2​University of Minnesota, St Paul, MN, USA.
3​Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai University, New York, USA.
4​J. Craig Venter Institute, Rockville, MD, USA.
5​Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, USA.
6​University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada.


Swine are a key reservoir host for influenza A viruses (IAVs), with the potential to cause global pandemics in humans. Gaps in surveillance in many of the world's largest swine populations impede our understanding of how novel viruses emerge and expand their spatial range in pigs. Although US swine are intensively sampled, little is known about IAV diversity in Canada's population of ~12 million pigs. By sequencing 168 viruses from multiple regions of Canada, our study reveals that IAV diversity has been underestimated in Canadian pigs for many years. Critically, a new H1 clade has emerged in Canada (H1α-3), with a two-amino acid deletion at H1 positions 146-147, that experienced rapid growth in Manitoba's swine herds during 2014-2015. H1α-3 viruses also exhibit a higher capacity to invade US swine herds, resulting in multiple recent introductions of the virus into the US Heartland following large-scale movements of pigs in this direction. From the Heartland, H1α-3 viruses have disseminated onward to both the east and west coasts of the United States, and may become established in Appalachia. These findings demonstrate how long-distance trading of live pigs facilitates the spread of IAVs, increasing viral genetic diversity and complicating pathogen control. The proliferation of novel H1α-3 viruses also highlights the need for expanded surveillance in a Canadian swine population that has long been overlooked, and may have implications for vaccine design.


Influenza A virus; phylogeography; reassortment; swine; viral emergence; zoonotic

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