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WSN/33 in Swine in Korean Pigs - Minor Health Risk

Recombinomics Commentary
May 9, 2005

>>  Even if WSN were circulating in Korean pigs, Stöhr says, that wouldn't spell disaster. There's no evidence that WSN is still dangerous to humans, he says; indeed, Fouchier adds, many labs use it without taking special safety precautions. <<

The comments above were in the March 4 Science article on WSN/33 in Korean swine.  At the time only the six sequences at GenBank were known, and WHO was maintaining that WSN/33 was simply a lab contaminant.  Now after several additional attempts to resolve this issue of the existence of WSN/33 in swine in Korea, the WHO has failed to disprove the sequence data at GenBank.  The number of H1 sequences has grown from 2 to 11 as the 2005 sequences evolve away from the 2004 sequences.  Faced with such overwhelming data for the existence of the sequences in swine, WHO appears to again be falling back on the "What me worry" approach.  The WHO is declaring the WSN/33 sequences in pigs on farms in Korea as a minor health risk not worthy of their attention, although they are concerned about H9N2 because of human receptor binding domains.

The WHO doesn't seem to be concerned about WSN/33's ability to sequester plasminogen, which enhances its ability to replicate under a variety of conditions in a variety of cells.  Its neurotropism isn't a significant concern to the WHO, nor is the PB2 mutation at position 627, or the M2 mutation leading to Amantadine and Rimandatine drug resistance.

According to the WHO, the fact that WSN/33 is just as lethal in mice when it has its own H and N, as when it has the H and N of the 1918 pandemic strain, does not elevate WSN/33 above the risk posed by other human sequences in swine around the world.

Exactly how WSN/33 moved from a lab to swine in Korea also seems to be of little concern.

Clearly, monitoring of pandemic influenza by WHO has moved well beyond scandalous.

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