How did Swine Influenza Virus (SIV) originate? And how did it get the name H1N1?

Follow the graphic given below which explains how swine influenza virus (SIV) comes into existence. The graphic also shows set-up of integrated farming. This system of farming was adopted in China some decades ago and was subsequently introduced in the countries like Mexico, Vietnam, and Thailand. Poultry forms the higher echelon of integrated farming. Its waste is supplied in the pig yard and the waste material of pig yard is fed in the fish pond to raise fish. In this manner the practitioner of integrated farming can raise poultry, pig and fish for food at very low cost.
This type of integrated farming is inexpensive but fraught with great risk as the viruses of these animals as well as humans beings get the opportunity to intermingle. All the three hosts of viruses, namely farmers and their families, poultry and pigs come in close contact with one another.


As shown in the graphic, sometimes (1) human influenza virus gains entirely in the bodies of pigs through air. In the same manner (2) bird flu virus of poultry infects the pigs (swine). Physiology of pigs makes these animals living reaction vessels with the result that genes of both viruses (3) intermingle in their bodies. Swine flu virus adds its own genes in the cross-breeding process and the three-in-one virus so originated in the bodies of pigs is transmitted to the (4) human beings in the form of swine influenza virus.

This swine flu virus has 1 human gene, 2 genes of poultry and 5 genes of pig (swine). This truly hybrid virus has its spike-shaped outer surface made of proteins known as H1 and N1. That is the reason it’s given the short name as H1N1.

Even in its new incarnation this virus continues to remain as a virus of influenza but as the spikes on its outer surface are shaped differently, the immune system of the human beings fails to identify it. The antibodies in the blood of the infected person produced by his body in the course of its fight with an earlier infection or introduced in the blood in the form of vaccine are not effective against the new (swine) flu virus. As the antibodies are unable to destroy the new virus it gets conducive environment to multiply its numbers. Penetrating human cells the virus subverts them to make its own numerous replicas.

Ultimately when the subverted human cell dies numerous replicas of virus also can not survive in a dead cell; but before that happens the replicas of virus infiltrate other cells and from there other human beings through contagious infection. Coughing and sneezing by the patient are actually the stratagems employed by the virus to spread its replicas or clones. The intention of the virus is to preserve and protect its descendants by securing for them alternative accommodation in the bodies of other persons before their original host dies!

In the circumstances where spreading of infection quickly through coughing or sneezing is not possible the virus does not let the patient die but allows him to live for a longer period by becoming dormant so that infection can be spread when conditions are favorable. AIDS is one example of slow spreading disease as HIV virus of AIDS does not spread through air or through mosquito bite.

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