Timelines of infection and transmission dynamics of H1N1pdm09 in swine

Influenza is a major cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide. Despite numerous studies of the pathogenesis of influenza in humans and animal models the dynamics of infection and transmission in individual hosts remain poorly characterized. In this study, we experimentally modelled transmission using the H1N1pdm09 influenza A virus in pigs, which are considered a good model for influenza infection in humans. Using an experimental design that allowed us to observe individual transmission events occurring within an 18-hr period, we quantified the relationships between infectiousness, shed virus titre and antibody titre. Transmission event was observed on 60% of occasions when virus was detected in donor pig nasal swabs and transmission was more likely when donor pigs shed more virus. This led to the true infectious period (mean 3.9 days) being slightly shorter than that predicted by detection of virus (mean 4.5 days). The generation time of infection (which determines the rate of epidemic spread) was estimated for the first time in pigs at a mean of 4.6 days. We also found that the latent period of the contact pig was longer when they had been exposed to smaller amount of shed virus. Our study provides quantitative information on the time lines of infection and the dynamics of transmission that are key parts of the evidence base needed to understand the spread of influenza viruses though animal populations and, potentially, in humans.