University of Maryland Presents Study Indicating H1N1 Virus, Known as Swine Flu, Unlikely to Mutate into 'Superbug'

The new H1N1 virus appears to outcompete seasonal flu, making it less likely to mix with other circulating flu viruses into a "superbug" as some had feared, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

The H1N1, or swine flu, virus also spreads more quickly and causes more severe disease in animal studies, the team said, but it shows no signs of mixing with either of the two seasonal flu viruses to form a new, so-called reassortant virus.

A laboratory study by University of Maryland researchers suggests that some of the worst fears about a virulent H1N1 pandemic flu season may not be realized this year, but does demonstrate the heightened communicability of the virus.

Using ferrets exposed to three different viruses, the Maryland researchers found no evidence that the H1N1 pandemic variety, responsible for the so-called swine flu, combines in a lab setting with other flu strains to form a more virulent 'superbug.' Rather, the pandemic virus prevailed and out-competed the other strains, reproducing in the ferrets, on average, twice as much.