Syndromic survey and molecular analysis of influenza viruses at the human-swine interface in two West African cosmopolitan cities suggest the possibility of bidirectional interspecies transmission.
Influenza viruses are frequently transmitted between pigs and their handlers, and among pig handlers. However, reports on socio-environmental variables as potential risk factors associated with transmission of influenza in West African swine production facilities are very scarce. Syndromic survey for influenza was therefore conducted in Ibadan, Nigeria, and Kumasi, Ghana, in order to identify and elucidate selected socio-environmental variables that may contribute to the occurrence and distribution of influenza-like illness (ILI) among swine industry workers. In addition, molecular analyses were conducted to elucidate the nature of influenza viruses circulating at the human-swine interface in these cities and better understand the dynamics of their transmission. Influenza viruses were detected by type-specific and subtype-specific RT-PCR. Sequencing and phylogenetic analyses were carried out. Socio-environmental variables were tested by both univariable and multivariable regression methods for significance at p<0.05. Three risk factors for ILI were identified in each city. These included "frequency of visit of pig handler to pig pen or lairage" (Ibadan: risk ratio [RR]=1.54, 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.36-1.79, p=0.02; Kumasi: RR=1.28, 95% CI=1.11-1.71, p=0.01) and "pig handler's awareness about biosecurity measures" (Ibadan: RR=7.09, 95% CI=2.36-21.32, p<0.001; Kumasi: RR=4.84, 95% CI=1.98-11.80, p<0.001). Influenza A(H1N1) pdm09 viruses, with M genes closely related to those which circulated among pigs in the two cities during the same period, were detected among Nigerian and Ghanaian pig industry workers. These findings suggest the possibility of bidirectional transmission of influenza at the human-swine interface in these cities and underscore the need for more extensive molecular studies. Risk factors identified may assist in the control of human-to-human and human-to-swine transmission of influenza in the West African swine industry.