Transmission of Influenza A Virus in Pigs


M. Torremorell. Department of Veterinary Population Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, 385 Animal Science/Veterinary Medicine Building, 1988 Fitch Avenue, St Paul, MN 55108, USA. Tel.: +1 612-625-1233; Fax: +1 612-625-1210; E-mail:


Influenza A virus infections cause respiratory disease in pigs and are a risk to public health. The pig plays an important role in influenza ecology because of its ability to support replication of influenza viruses from avian, swine and human species. Influenza A virus is widespread in pigs worldwide, and influenza A virus interspecies transmission has been documented in many events. Influenza A virus is mostly transmitted through direct pig-to-pig contact and aerosols although other indirect routes of transmission may also exist. Several factors contribute to differences in the transmission dynamics within populations including among others vaccination, pig flow, animal movement and animal introduction which highlights the complexity of influenza A transmission in pigs. In addition, pigs can serve as a reservoir of influenza A viruses for other pigs and other species and understanding mechanisms of transmission within pigs and from pigs to other species and vice versa is crucial. In this paper, we review the current understanding of influenza virus transmission in pigs. We highlight the ubiquity of influenza A virus in the pig population and the widespread distribution of pandemic H1N1 virus worldwide while emphasizing an understanding of the routes of transmission and factors that contribute to virus spread and dissemination within and between pig populations. In addition, we describe transmission events between pigs and other species including people. Understanding transmission is crucial for designing effective control strategies and for making well-informed recommendations for surveillance.