From Our 2010 Archives
H1N1 Flu Undergoing Genetic Changes in Pigs
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THURSDAY, June 17 (HealthDay News) -- Although the pandemic H1N1 "swine" flu that emerged last spring has stayed genetically stable in humans, researchers in Asia say the virus has undergone genetic changes in pigs during the last year and a half.
The fear is that these genetic changes, or reassortments, could produce a more virulent bug.
"The particular reassortment we found is not itself likely to be of major human health risk, [but] it is an indication of what may be occurring on a wider scale, undetected," said Malik Peiris, an influenza expert and co-author of a paper published in the June 18 issue of Science. "Other reassortments may occur, some of which pose greater risks."
The findings underscore the importance of monitoring how the influenza virus behaves in pigs, said Peiris, who is chair and professor of microbiology at the University of Hong Kong and scientific director of the university's Pasteur Research Center.
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