Novel swine-origin influenza A virus in humans: another pandemic knocking at the door

Med Microbiol Immunol. 2009 Aug;198(3):175-83. doi: 10.1007/s00430-009-0118-5. Epub 2009 Jun 20.


Influenza A viruses represent a continuous pandemic threat. In April 2009, a novel influenza A virus, the so-called swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus (S-OIV), was identified in Mexico. Although S-OIV originates from triple-reassortant swine influenza A (H1) that has been circulating in North American pig herds since the end of the 1990s, S-OIV is readily transmitted between humans but is not epidemic in pigs. After its discovery, S-OIV rapidly spread throughout the world within few weeks. In this review, we sum up the current situation and put it into the context of the current state of knowledge of influenza and influenza pandemics. Some indications suggest that a pandemic may be mild but even "mild" pandemics can result in millions of deaths. However, no reasonable forecasts how this pandemic may develop can be made at this time. Despite stockpiling by many countries and WHO, antiviral drugs will be limited in case of pandemic and resistances may emerge. Effective vaccines are regarded to be crucial for the control of influenza pandemics. However, production capacities are restricted and development/production of a S-OIV vaccine will interfere with manufacturing of seasonal influenza vaccines. The authors are convinced that S-OIV should be taken seriously as pandemic threat and underestimation of the menace by S-OIV to be by far more dangerous than its overestimation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype / classification
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype / genetics
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype / pathogenicity*
  • Influenza Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology*
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control
  • Influenza, Human / therapy
  • Reassortant Viruses / classification
  • Reassortant Viruses / genetics
  • Swine / virology
  • Swine Diseases / epidemiology
  • Swine Diseases / virology
  • Virulence


  • Influenza Vaccines