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Vaccine development for protecting swine against influenza virus

  • Qi Chen (a1), Darin Madson (a2), Cathy L. Miller (a1) and D.L. Hank Harris (a2) (a3) (a4)

Influenza virus infects a wide variety of species including humans, pigs, horses, sea mammals and birds. Weight loss caused by influenza infection and/or co-infection with other infectious agents results in significant financial loss in swine herds. The emergence of pandemic H1N1 (A/CA/04/2009/H1N1) and H3N2 variant (H3N2v) viruses, which cause disease in both humans and livestock constitutes a concerning public health threat. Influenza virus contains eight single-stranded, negative-sense RNA genome segments. This genetic structure allows the virus to evolve rapidly by antigenic drift and shift. Antigen-specific antibodies induced by current vaccines provide limited cross protection to heterologous challenge. In pigs, this presents a major obstacle for vaccine development. Different strategies are under development to produce vaccines that provide better cross-protection for swine. Moreover, overriding interfering maternal antibodies is another goal for influenza vaccines in order to permit effective immunization of piglets at an early age. Herein, we present a review of influenza virus infection in swine, including a discussion of current vaccine approaches and techniques used for novel vaccine development.

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