Swine Flu Virus Hiding Out in Pigs, May Reemerge
Swine flu, or H1N1, has been hiding out in pigs for more than a year, getting a genetic makeover, scientists have discovered.
Pigs in a Hong Kong slaughterhouse are carrying influenza viruses containing gene segments belonging to the deadly H1N1 strain that swept the globe in 2009, tests reveal. (See swine myths and facts.)
The newly identified "reassorted" virus—dubbed 2010 H1N1—is likely not a threat to humans.
That's because only one of the virus' eight genetic segments belonged to the strain that infected humans last year, said study co-author Malik Peiris, an influenza researcher at Hong Kong University.
(Related picture: "Swine Flu Virus Revealed.")
The discovery is still disturbing, because it suggests the 2009 H1N1 virus could be reshaping its genetic code in animal hosts in