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The Case of 1933 Human Flu in 2004 Korean Swine is Not Closed

Recombinomics Commentary

April 14, 2005

>>  have tested 400 samples from two Korean pig farms, WHO says, and found no trace of WSN/33.

Seo declined to comment. Henry Niman, a business owner in Philadelphia who backs Seo's claim, says Kawaoka's study wasn't broad enough to refute the theory. But, says WHO flu expert Klaus Stöhr, "we've spent too much time on these speculations already." <<

Since WHO has announced to Nature and Science that they have failed to prove or disprove the presence of WSN/33, but are moving on to other areas, it is worth going into a little more detail on the only piece of positive data that the WHO obtained.  This approach has analogies with the 1957 H2N2 pandemic strain that is causing some concern.

As noted above one of the tests was to isolate virus independently from pigs on farms.  The official press release has not come out, but WHO notes that, as indicated above, they looked at 400 samples.  They came up with 27 isolates, all of which were H1N2 and were triple reassortants like those found in the United States (A/duck/NC/91347/03(H1N2) and A/Swine/North Carolina/
93523/01(H1N2)).  This was nothing new, because the same result had been obtained in Korea (A/Swine/Korea/CY02/02(H1N2) in 2002, and the sequence had been deposited at GenBank. Thus, WHO was able to confirm an earlier report by another lab.  The finding of H1N2 was not as worrisome as H1N1 from WSN/33 because the H1N2 had contemporary human genes, and most humans had immunity to the contemporary genes.

Thus, the finding did not really address the issue of WSN/33, because as noted above, only two farms were checked.  Not noted is the fact that these 400 samples came from only a handful of swine, and all 27 isolates were the same.  They came from only one or two swine.  Thus, WHO went to 2 farms, found 1 or 2 positive pigs, and since they were infected with another virus, they closed their investigation.

Hopefully, when WHO tries to figure out were the 1957 H2N2 was before it was mistakenly mailed to labs around the world, they will not stop looking if they come across a couple of H3N2 samples.  One can hope that they do not think that H3N2 in someone's freezer means no one else in the United States has improperly labeled H2N2.

More specifics will be described when WHO puts out their press release with more negative data.  However, the bottom line remains.  WHO did not find WSN/33 and they did not find H9N2, so they have no rational explanation for the composition of the six isolates from six pigs on six farms in Korea in 2004. 

Until they can explain the data (other than hand waving using a disputed shipment of WSN/33 to Korea or up-loads of mistaken files), the case is not closed.

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