Mizoram swine flu outbreak: humans at risk of infection

The swine flu and PRRS outbreak, which killed over 2,900 pigs in Mizoram since March, could mean an increased risk of transmission of swine infections to humans

By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Wednesday 13 June 2018 | 12:34:58 PM
Curable with vaccines, swine flu was first reported in humans in India in 2009. Credit: NHS Employers/Flickr
Curable with vaccines, swine flu was first reported in humans in India in 2009. Credit: NHS Employers/Flickr Curable with vaccines, swine flu was first reported in humans in India in 2009. Credit: NHS Employers/Flickr

More than 2,900 pigs and piglets died in Mizoram due to an outbreak of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) and Classical Swine Fever (CSF) since March this year, according to a media report.

Officials of the state animal husbandry and veterinary department reportedly told the media that the PRRS outbreak originated from Zokhawthar village, Champhai district along the Mizoram-Myanmar border.

Till last week at least 2,952 pigs and piglets died and 6,664 others were taken ill because of the disease and the outbreak, they told the media.

This is said to be the third such PRRS outbreak after the one 2013 and 2016. This time, it has affected almost all the eight districts. PRRS is a major disease affecting the animal globally.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus. Although swine flu viruses generally do not affect humans, sporadic human infections with influenza viruses that normally infect swine have occurred, says the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. “When this happens, these viruses are called “variant viruses.” Most commonly, human infections with variant viruses have occurred in people exposed to infected pigs (children near pigs at a fair or workers in the swine industry), it said.

During a swine flu outbreak, the potential risk of zoonotic diseases can increase. Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases which spread from animals to humans.

In Vietnam, for instance, during the 2010 swine outbreaks, a study showed that the risk for potential zoonotic transmission of S. suis (a bacteria) to humans increased during PRRS outbreak. This was due to the increased prevalence of S. suis infection in pigs co-infected with PRRS. Co-infection also increases the severity of PRRS in pigs. The study was explained in a letter in 2013 in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Streptococcus suis, a pathogen of swine, is an emerging zoonotic pathogen among humans, said the authors. “In Vietnam, S. suis was the leading cause of acute bacterial meningitis in humans. Infection in humans is associated with direct exposure to infected pigs or infected raw or undercooked pork products," it said.

Read our coverage on swine flu unpreparedness, on the lack of research, and the link between rising temperatures and swine flu.

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