USDA-NIH-NPB Influenza Workshop Summary

The Fogarty International Center (FIC) of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Influenza Research Database (IRD), USDA National Centers of Animal Health (NCAH), and National Pork Board (NPB) held an influenza research workshop focused on influenza in swine and the human-swine interface in Ames, IA, May 7-10, 2013. This workshop was the first of its kind at USDA-NCAH and it was held as part of the FIC-initiated Multinational Influenza Seasonal Mortality Study (MISMS), an international research collaboration that analyzes epidemiologic and phylogenetic patterns associated with influenza virus circulation.

The workshop focused on gathering laboratory diagnosticians, veterinarians, epidemiologists and virologists together, who perform diagnostics and/or research for swine influenza, especially those involved in the USDA swine influenza surveillance system. Demonstrations and hands-on instruction were designed to assess specific influenza surveillance questions:

  • What viruses are circulating?
  • Where, how they are changing, how similar circulating strains are to current vaccines available?
  • How well current diagnostic tests can detect these viruses, and detection and investigation of interspecies spillover events?
  • What are the influencing variables related to transmission dynamics, mechanisms of viral evolution, and spatial dynamics?

Participants had the opportunity to review and evaluate their own data utilizing new analytical techniques and were encouraged to bring their own data (for example, USDA Swine Influenza Surveillance data, additional influenza virus sequences, diagnostic reports, serological data, animal-human contact data, etc.) to analyze in the workshop. The workshop provided the opportunity for all participants to discuss diagnostic findings, methodologies for analysis and research needs. The knowledge gained from this workshop will continue to be utilized to assess surveillance data and will help support future discussions on how best to manage and control swine influenza.

Past meetings/workshops have been held at the NIH, South America (Argentina, Peru), Asia (Nepal, China, and Vietnam), Europe (Portugal and Denmark), Africa (Senegal), and Oceania (Australia). These meetings are designed to help build analytical capacity at state and federal labs for epidemiologic and molecular studies of influenza, strengthen current networks and identify collaborators, and disseminate new scientific findings that may serve to inform influenza control strategies. More information about previous meetings can be found at http://www.origem.info/misms/program.php.