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Ambient Hydrogen Sulfide Exposure Increases the Severity of Influenza A Virus Infection in Swine

Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is common in concentrated pig feed operations from the decomposition of manure. Ambient H2S is a respiratory tract irritant and an environmental stressor for caretakers and pigs. Influenza A virus (IAV), a zoonotic pathogen, has caused prior pandemics. The effects of H2S or IAV alone on the respiratory system have been investigated, but their interaction has not. We hypothesized that exposure to environmentally-relevant H2S concentrations increases the pathogenicity of IAV infection in swine. Thirty-five, three-week old pigs of mixed sex were exposed to breathing air or H2S via inhalation 6 hours daily for 12 days. After 7 days, pigs were inoculated with H3N2 IAV (or a placebo). Results showed that ambient H2S increased the severity of respiratory distress and lung pathology. H2S also suppressed IL-IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-8 cytokine response in BALF and increased viral loads and nasal shedding.

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