Illustration of a targeted virus over a world map
The Hunt for a Pandemic’s Origins
Dozens of researchers, including myself, worked for years to uncover that swine flu had leapt to humans from a pig in Mexico in 2009. We learned a lot about influenza evolution, pig farming, and outbreak risk along the way.
ABOVE: © istock.com, bgblue
The Hunt for a Pandemic’s Origins
The Hunt for a Pandemic’s Origins

Dozens of researchers, including myself, worked for years to uncover that swine flu had leapt to humans from a pig in Mexico in 2009. We learned a lot about influenza evolution, pig farming, and outbreak risk along the way.

Dozens of researchers, including myself, worked for years to uncover that swine flu had leapt to humans from a pig in Mexico in 2009. We learned a lot about influenza evolution, pig farming, and outbreak risk along the way.

ABOVE: © istock.com, bgblue

virus hunting

Illustration of a world map showing a truck going from the US to Mexico, a plane going from Europe to Mexico, and a pig surrounded by various viruses in Mexico
Infographic: How H1N1 Came to Spark a Pandemic in 2009
Martha Nelson | Jan 4, 2022
The pathogen known as swine flu evolved in pigs in Mexico following imports of the livestock from the US and Europe.
An illustration with a world map, pigs, and viruses
Timeline: Investigating the Origins of the 2009 Pandemic
Martha Nelson | Jan 4, 2022
Seven years of surveillance and research revealed the complex history of the H1N1 virus that leapt from pigs to humans and sparked the global swine flu outbreak.
Q&A: New Tool Ranks Viruses by Their Risk of Jumping to Humans
Jef Akst | Apr 9, 2021
Researchers involved in a long-term project to identify viruses of concern have now assessed the risk factors that could help forecast which pathogens are the most likely to spillover from wildlife to people.
Opinion: Disease Prediction by Bat Virus Surveys Is a Waste
Merlin Tuttle | Jan 21, 2019
Costly virus hunts are ineffective in protecting public health and have unfairly harmed the historically excellent safety record of bats as beneficial neighbors.