Experimental infection of pigs and ferrets with "pre-pandemic," human-adapted, and swineadapted variants of the H1N1pdm09 influenza A virus reveals significant differences in viral dynamics and pathological manifestations

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Influenza A viruses are RNA viruses that cause epidemics in humans and are enzootic in the pig population globally. In 2009, pig-to-human transmission of a reassortant H1N1 virus (H1N1pdm09) caused the first influenza pandemic of the 21st century. This study investigated the infection dynamics, pathogenesis, and lesions in pigs and ferrets inoculated with natural isolates of swine-adapted, human-adapted, and "pre-pandemic"H1N1pdm09 viruses. Additionally, the direct-contact and aerosol transmission properties of the three H1N1pdm09 isolates were assessed in ferrets. In pigs, inoculated ferrets, and ferrets infected by direct contact with inoculated ferrets, the pre-pandemic H1N1pdm09 virus induced an intermediary viral load, caused the most severe lesions, and had the highest clinical impact. The swine-adapted H1N1pdm09 virus induced the highest viral load, caused intermediary lesions, and had the least clinical impact in pigs. The human-adapted H1N1pdm09 virus induced the highest viral load, caused the mildest lesions, and had the least clinical impact in ferrets infected by direct contact. The discrepancy between viral load and clinical impact presumably reflects the importance of viral host adaptation. Interestingly, the swine-adapted H1N1pdm09 virus was transmitted by aerosols to two-thirds of the ferrets. Further work is needed to assess the risk of human-to-human aerosol transmission of swine-adapted H1N1pdm09 viruses.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1011838
JournalPLoS Pathogens
Issue number12
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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© 2023 Kristensen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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