Serological Evidence of Pandemic H1N1 Influenza Virus Infections in Greek Swine

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The introduction of the 2009 pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) influenza virus in pigs changed the epidemiology of influenza A viruses (IAVs) in swine in Europe and the rest of the world. Previously, three IAV subtypes were found in the European pig population: an avian-like H1N1 and two reassortant H1N2 and H3N2 viruses with human-origin haemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase proteins and internal genes of avian decent. These viruses pose antigenically distinct HAs, which allow the retrospective diagnosis of infection in serological investigations. However, cross-reactions between the HA of pH1N1 and the HAs of the other circulating H1 IAVs complicate serological diagnosis. The prevalence of IAVs in Greek swine has been poorly investigated. In this study, we examined and compared haemagglutination inhibition (HI) antibody titres against previously established IAVs and pH1N1 in 908 swine sera from 88 herds, collected before and after the 2009 pandemic. While we confirmed the historic presence of the three IAVs established in European swine, we also found that 4% of the pig sera examined after 2009 had HI antibodies only against the pH1N1 virus. Our results indicate that pH1N1 is circulating in Greek pigs and stress out the importance of a vigorous virological surveillance programme.

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