Surveillance of European domestic pig populations identifies an emerging reservoir of potentially zoonotic Swine Influenza A viruses
Swine influenza A viruses (swIAVs) can play a crucial role in the generation of new human pandemic viruses. In this study, in-depth passive surveillance comprising nearly 2,500 European swine holdings and more than 18,000 individual samples identified a year-round presence of up to four major swIAV lineages on more than 50% of farms surveilled. Phylogenetic analyses show that intensive reassortment with human pandemic A(H1N1)/2009 (H1pdm) virus produced an expanding and novel repertoire of at least 31 distinct swIAV genotypes and 12 distinct hemagglutinin/neuraminidase combinations with largely unknown consequences for virulence and host tropism. Several viral isolates were resistant to the human antiviral MxA protein, a prerequisite for zoonotic transmission and stable introduction into human populations. A pronounced antigenic variation was noted in swIAV, and several H1pdm lineages antigenically distinct from current seasonal human H1pdm co-circulate in swine. Thus, European swine populations represent reservoirs for emerging IAV strains with zoonotic and, possibly, pre-pandemic potential.