Dr. Andrew Bowman, who is completing his doctoral degree in Comparative and Veterinary Medicine, was recently featured by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a podcast discussing his research on influenza. This research project, funded by the Minnesota Center of Excellence for Influenza Research & Surveillance (MCEIRS) with federal funds from NIH, began in the summer of 2009 focusing on the One Health concept of bi-directional disease transmission from swine to humans, and from humans to swine at agricultural fairs in Ohio. At fairs, the ratio of people to swine is high, and some people who attend fairs may have never been exposed to pigs before.
Dr. Bowman and colleagues in the Animal Influenza Ecology and Epidemiology Research Program believed that if you commingle pigs and people for an extended period of time, as happens at fairs, influenza infections might occur and potentially spread among the pigs and/or people. In this study, the researchers collected nasal swabs from pigs at fairs across Ohio and tested those swabs for influenza A virus with a variety of laboratory tests. Samples were collected at the end of the exhibition period, making it more likely to find virus after it spread through the swine population. The research team found more subclinically infected pigs than expected. Subclinical means that there are no outward signs of illness, but the animal is infected.
Mandated by law, every pig that is brought into an agricultural fair in Ohio must be visually inspected upon arrival, and each day during the fair, by veterinarians. This study indicates that you cannot rely solely on the outward appearance of a pig to determine if it is infected with influenza or not. Ongoing research is needed to investigate strategies to mitigate influenza transmission in these settings. You can read more on Dr. Bowman's research here. You can also listen to Dr. Bowman's CDC Podcast here.
Dr. Andrew Bowman is advised by Dr. Richard Slemons in the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. Dr. Bowman previously received his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Master of Science, and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees from The Ohio State University.