The genetic material for the Type A H1N1 influenza virus or as USDA is now calling it —  H1N1 flu outbreak virus —  is being shipped to veterinary biologics manufacturers, with ample supplies and distribution later this summer. 

Officials at USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Center for Veterinary Biologics say they will issue "a notice to manufacturers" this week. 

The genetic material of the H1N1 flu outbreak virus has been derived from a sample acquired from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through collaboration between Agricultural Research Service's National Animal Disease Center and CVB.

It is still unknown whether current swine influenza virus vaccines currently on the market will protect swine from the H1N1 flu outbreak virus. APHIS and ARS researchers continue to run tests to determine if any there is any cross-over protection. 

The pigs in Canada that were infected with the H1N1 flu outbreak virus became no sicker than hogs encountering the common swine influenza virus that's circulating today, notes Greg Stevenson, DVM, in Iowa State University's production animal medicine diagnostics department. "That work is underway, there's not been enough time for the results to be sure yet, but it appears there's going to be some good cross protection." He adds that the H1N1 flu outbreak virus does not grow very well, particularly in chicken eggs, which is the median for influenza virus and vaccine development. 

Stevenson does point out that the Iowa State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory had developed a new PCR test based on a unique region of M protein of the H1N1 flu outbreak virus, which will detect and identify only that virus. 

USDA will soon be launching a pilot surveillance program in cooperation with state animal-health officials and diagnostic laboratories for swine influenza in U.S.  pigs. Stevenson notes that Iowa officials are finalizing the details. The program will be composed of three surveillance streams: 

  • Swine that are epistemologically linked to a human case of H1N1 flu outbreak virus;
  • Swine observed with influenza-like illness at first points of concentration, such as exhibitions, fairs, sale barns;
  • Client authorized (voluntary) influenza-like illness submissions to the veterinary diagnostic laboratory.

For the first two options, state officials will collect samples and deliver them to diagnostic laboratories for standard SIV testing as well as for H1N1 flu outbreak virus. The third option will be strictly voluntary. The person submitting the tissue sample will have to provide written authorization prior to testing for the H1N1 flu outbreak virus, emphasizes Stevenson.

As for the vaccine, in providing all interested manufacturers with the same genetic base from the H1N1 flu outbreak virus, APHIS eliminates the need for each manufacturer to develop its own master seed that would then require CVB confirmatory testing. Instead, while the "global" master seed virus is undergoing tests at CVB, each interested manufacturer can begin working on the next steps involved in related vaccine production.

Producers could have a vaccine available as early as November or December, say USDA officials.