I’m sure lots of other people will point to the new Nature paper on the history and evolution of the new H1N1 influenza.1 (I believe this is an open-access paper, so check it out for yourself.) Key points include:
- it was derived from several viruses circulating in swine
- the initial transmission to humans occurred several months before recognition of the outbreak.
- the reassortment of swine lineages may have occurred years before human emergence
- the nature and location of the genetically closest swine viruses reveal little about the immediate origin of the epidemic
A key conclusion: “Our results highlight the need for systematic surveillance of influenza in swine.” This seems to be becoming fairly widely accepted, though I don’t know what is being done to make it happen.
They include a really helpful diagram, by far the best I’ve seen for clarifying the evolutionary history:
(Sorry for the lack of updates this week, by the way. It’s been a rough week, nothing has gone well except for the Red Sox beating the Yankees in the first two games of their series.)