Daniela Rajao, an assistant professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine, was recently quoted in a UPI story about scientists turning to swine barns at county fairs to look for the next pandemic flu virus.
According to the story, scientists believe that all of the deadly influenza outbreaks in human history likely originated in domesticated pigs, but they don’t understand exactly how the virus transforms from a swine disease into something that can infect humans.
“We already knew the virus could transfer from humans to pigs,” Rajao said. “I was looking at the spread of viruses from humans to pigs before the 2009 pandemic. And then, once the 2009 pandemic hit, the dynamic between the two became even more complex because it was being transferred back and forth.”
In 2009, the previously unknown H1N1 virus emerged in pigs in Mexico and crossed into the human population. It spread quickly. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the virus killed between 150,000 and 575,000 people worldwide.