In order to explore the occurrence of antigenic drift in swine influenza A(H3N2) virus, we examined virus strains from outbreaks of respiratory disease among finishing pigs in the Netherlands in 1996 and 1997 and from earlier outbreaks. In contrast to swine H3N2 strains from the 1980s, the recent isolates did not show significant cross-reactivity with human influenza A(H3N2) viruses from 1972-1975 in haemagglutination inhibition tests. These new strains form a separate branch in the phylogenetic trec of the HA1 parts of HA. We conclude that recently there has been considerable antigenic drift within the swine H3N2 viruses in the Netherlands and Belgium and recommend replacement of the A/Port Chalmers/1/73 (H3N2) strain in the current vaccine by a more recent swine H3N2 isolate.

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Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

de Jong, J., van Nieuwstadt, A. P., Kimman, T. G., Loeffen, W. L. A., Bestebroer, T., Bijlsma, K., … Claas, E. (1999). Antigenic drift in swine influenza H3 haemagglutinins with implications for vaccination policy. Vaccine, 17(11-12), 1321–1328. doi:10.1016/S0264-410X(98)00392-2