Before the isolation of H3N2 viruses in 1998, swine influenza in the United States was an endemic disease caused exclusively by classical-swine H1N1 viruses. In this study we determined the antigenic and phylogenetic composition of a selection of currently circulating strains and revealed that, in contrast to the situation pre-1998, the swine population in the United States is now a dynamic viral reservoir containing multiple viral lineages. H3N2 viruses still circulate and representatives of each of two previously identified phylogenetic groups were isolated. H1N1 and H1N2 viruses were also identified. In addition to the genotypic diversity present, there was also considerable antigenic diversity seen. At least three antigenic profiles of H1 viruses were noted and all of the recent H3N2 viruses reacted poorly, if at all, to the index A/swine/Texas/4199-2/98 H3N2 antiserum in hemagglutination inhibition assays. The influenza reservoir in the United States swine population has thus gone from a stable single viral lineage to one where genetically and antigenically heterogeneic viruses co-circulate. The growing complexity of influenza at this animal-human interface and the presence of viruses with a seemingly high affinity for reassortment makes the United States swine population an increasingly important reservoir of viruses with human pandemic potential.
- Swine influenza