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Genetic and antigenic evolution of H1 swine influenza A viruses isolated in Belgium and the Netherlands from 2014 through 2019

Surveillance of swine influenza A viruses (swIAV) allows timely detection and identification of new variants with potential zoonotic risks. In this study, we aimed to identify swIAV subtypes that circulated in pigs in Belgium and the Netherlands between 2014 and 2019, and characterize their genetic and antigenic evolution. We subtyped all isolates and analyzed hemagglutinin sequences and hemagglutination inhibition assay data for H1 swIAV, which were the dominant HA subtype. We also analyzed whole genome sequences (WGS) of selected isolates. Out of 200 samples, 89 tested positive for swIAV. swIAV of H1N1, H1N2 and H3N2 subtypes were detected. Analysis of WGS of 18 H1 swIAV isolates revealed three newly emerged genotypes. The European avian-like H1 swIAV (lineage 1C) were predominant and accounted for 47.2% of the total isolates. They were shown to evolve faster than the European human-like H1 (1B lineage) swIAV, which represented 27% of the isolates. The 2009 pandemic H1 swIAV (lineage 1A) accounted for only 5.6% of the isolates and showed divergence from their precursor virus. These results point to the increasing divergence of swIAV and stress the need for continuous surveillance of swIAV.

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