A 2009 Novel H1N1 swine vaccine developed by Hank Harris, professor of animal science, Iowa State University, is being used to vaccinate a swine herd infected with the virus. Harris developed the vaccine this summer and has been shipping preventive doses to swine producers in Iowa, Kansas and Illinois for several weeks.

The latest vaccines were shipped to a pork producer in Indiana that had H1N1 diagnosed in the herd. "This is the first time we've had a confirmed diagnosis and the farmer wanted to vaccinate," said Harris. "We shipped about 20,000 doses with about another 11,000 to go out to them later."

Vaccinating a herd that has already been infected should have some effect on the spread, but Harris isn't sure how much. "It isn't uncommon for vaccinations to be used in what we call 'the face of an outbreak,'" he said. "They (producers) may think the virus is spreading slowly in the herd, and they want to vaccinate the entire herd."

Harris thinks the Indiana vaccinations may indicate swine producers around the country are eager to vaccinate. "Since these pigs got sick and had a confirmed diagnosis, I think more farmers are going to want to vaccinate," he said.

Harris says that the virus may have gotten into the Indiana swine herd from humans who had flu-like symptoms while working with the pigs. "It's one of those things we'll probably never know for sure. The history is that the virus can go from people to pigs and from pigs to people just as easily," he said.

The vaccine is being manufactured through Iowa State University and Harris' startup company SirrahBios

Harris adds that there is no threat of humans contracting the H1N1 virus by consuming pork from pigs that had the virus.

Source: Iowa State University