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The three parents of the virus may have been assembled in one place by natural means, such as by migrating birds, however the consistent link with pig viruses suggests that human activity was involved.
The research suggested more tests be done on laboratories "which share and propagate a range of swine influenza viruses....if the virus was generated by laboratory activity it would explain why it had "escaped surveillance for over a decade".
We contrast that suggestion with the possibility that laboratory errors involving the sharing of virus isolates and cultured cells, or perhaps vaccine production, may have been involved. Gene sequences from isolates that bridge the time and phylogenetic gap between the new virus and its parents will distinguish between these possibilities, and we suggest where they should be sought.
It is important that the source of the new virus be found if we wish to avoid future pandemics rather than just trying to minimize the consequences after they have emerged. Influenza virus is a very significant zoonotic pathogen. Public confidence in influenza research, and the agribusinesses that are based on influenza's many hosts, has been eroded by several recent events involving the virus.
"Measures to restore confidence include establishing an international framework co-ordinating surveillance, research and commercial work with this virus and a registry of all influenza isolates held for research and vaccine production," /ex]
[edit on 28-11-2009 by zazzafrazz]
Originally posted by apacheman
Ok, I've read Adrian Gibbs' paper, and he's made a few false assumptions. His whole thesis depends on the assumption that North American, European, and Asian swine herds and chicken flocks are hermetically isolated from each other and couldn't have infected each other.
So, here's the false assumptions as I see them:
First, he assumes a far higher level of quality control and quarantine for the international swine trade than actually exists. Swine herds are not monitored for much, there is no regular testing for them (that cost money, you know). So infected animals can easily pass through. He neglects to take into account that the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and many deals were struck to import and export a variety of animals. For several years the quarantines and observation of imported animals was pretty much non-existent. This time frame corresponds to the emergence of the North American versions in European herds. So the possibility of reassortment within swine herds is high to the point of being close to a certainty.
Second, he misidentifies the origin as Mexico. The first cases have been id'd as coming out of California, not Mexico.
Third, he postulates a chain of sloppy handling in a multitude of labs.
Fourth, he fails to account for how it got from lab to population.
Fifth, he fails to account for the possibility that live virus vaccines may have contributed to the development within swine herds.
So while it is possible it is a result of multiple accidental cross-contamination due to multiple labs doing sloppy work, I find it far more likely that it is a natural virus that evolved out of the unregulated international movement of swine.
I find sloppy handling of quarantines and inspections due to cost-cutting is a far simpler and more logical explanation than a multitude of bad labs.
The patchy occurrence of S-OIV infections in piggeries over the past six months is interesting and may be significant. Pigs have been shown to be fully susceptible to S-OIV. They shed the virus and readily transmit it between themselves, but whereas S-OIV has been reported in humans worldwide, it has not yet been reported from a pig farm in the USA (October 2009).
By contrast it has been found in two piggeries each in Australia, Canada and Ireland, and one each in Argentina, Indonesia and Japan. In the outbreaks in Argentina, Australia and Canada, at least, the pigs had not been vaccinated (Jorge H. Dillon, J. Keenliside and Alain Laperle, personal communication), and became infected from infected farm staff. The apparent immunity to S-OIV of pigs in the USA and Mexico, but not elsewhere, may indicate that the swine influenza vaccines currently used in the USA and Mexico contain an immunogen that either protects against S-OIV infection or mitigates its symptoms.