Influenza A swine H1

Influenza (flu) is a viral infection affecting the upper respiratory tract, causing a wide spectrum of symptoms, ranging from mild illness to more severe cases with caughing, high fever, general weakness and pneumonia, which can be fatal. The disease is commonly transmitted as aerosol through the air by coughs or sneezes and spreads around the world in seasonal epidemics typically during the winter season.

Influenza A is a negative strand ssRNA virus from the Orthomyxovirus family which infects birds and mammals. It is characterized by the Hemagglutinin (HA) and Neuraminidase (NA) genes. The Spanish flu 1918/19 was type H1N1 and caused between 10 and 50 millions casualties.

In April 2009 a new H1N1 virus derived from swine has been reported from Mexico. Within the first 20 days the virus caused more than 25 deaths. Meantime the virus has been detected in USA and in Europe, but usually associated with a mild course of the disease. Nevertheless the new sw InfA H1N1 virus is suspected to have a pandemic potential.

The new swine Influenza A virus type H1N1 is characterized by a new H1 gene sequence which is different from seasonal Influenza strains. The N1 gene is rather similar to the bird flu virus H5N1 from Asia.

Diagnostics of Influenza is based on testing on the matrix protein gene followed by specific testing for HA and NA sequences. We recommend to test first for general Influenza A using the LightMix® Kit M2 (40-0234-16) and to test positive samples for the new variant of the HA gene using this kit.

In Germany positive results are subject to report to the reference laboratory (Robert-Koch-Institute).

August 2009 this kit has been included in a clinical study. The sensitivity was determined to be less than 40 viral genomes per reaction, using 5 µl cDNA made from 2.5 µl RNA extract. The specificity for H1N1/2009 was confirmed by testing 14 other human pathogen Influenza A isolates and a panel of other viruses and bacteria.

This kit is not sold in the USA.

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