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The first detection of influenza in the Finnish pig population: a retrospective study

Tiina Nokireki1*, Taina Laine1, Laura London1, Niina Ikonen2 and Anita Huovilainen1

Author Affiliations

1 Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, Mustialankatu 3, FI-00790 Helsinki, Finland

2 National Institute for Health and Welfare, Mannerheimintie 166, FI-00270 Helsinki, Finland

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Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 2013, 55:69  doi:10.1186/1751-0147-55-69

Published: 18 September 2013

Abstract

Background

Swine influenza is an infectious acute respiratory disease of pigs caused by influenza A virus. We investigated the time of entry of swine influenza into the Finnish pig population. We also describe the molecular detection of two types of influenza A (H1N1) viruses in porcine samples submitted in 2009 and 2010.

This retrospective study was based on three categories of samples: blood samples collected for disease monitoring from pigs at major slaughterhouses from 2007 to 2009; blood samples from pigs in farms with a special health status taken in 2008 and 2009; and diagnostic blood samples from pigs in farms with clinical signs of respiratory disease in 2008 and 2009.

The blood samples were tested for influenza A antibodies with an antibody ELISA. Positive samples were further analyzed for H1N1, H3N2, and H1N2 antibodies with a hemagglutination inhibition test.

Diagnostic samples for virus detection were subjected to influenza A M-gene-specific real-time RT-PCR and to pandemic influenza A H1N1-specific real-time RT-PCR. Positive samples were further analyzed with RT-PCRs designed for this purpose, and the PCR products were sequenced and sequences analyzed phylogenetically.

Results

In the blood samples from pigs in special health class farms producing replacement animals and in diagnostic blood samples, the first serologically positive samples originated from the period July‚ÄďAugust 2008. In samples collected for disease monitoring, < 0.1%, 0% and 16% were positive for antibodies against influenza A H1N1 in the HI test in 2007, 2008, and 2009, respectively.

Swine influenza A virus of avian-like H1N1 was first detected in diagnostic samples in February 2009. In 2009 and 2010, the avian-like H1N1 virus was detected on 12 and two farms, respectively. The pandemic H1N1 virus (A(H1N1)pdm09) was detected on one pig farm in 2009 and on two farms in 2010.

Conclusions

Based on our study, swine influenza of avian-like H1N1 virus was introduced into the Finnish pig population in 2008 and A(H1N1)pdm09 virus in 2009. The source of avian-like H1N1 infection could not be determined. Cases of pandemic H1N1 in pigs coincided with the period when the A(H1N1)pdm09 virus was spread in humans in Finland.

Keywords:
Porcine; Influenza A; H1N1; Serology; Phylogenetic analysis; Finland