Mobile Influenza Analysis (Mia) Kits

Mia Logo

Logo designed by CDC scientists to brand Mia 

CDC Innovations: “Lab in A Backpack”  

Between 2010 and 2019, more than 450 people were infected with novel influenza viruses of swine origin in the U.S. Close interaction between people and pigs, most often in an agricultural fair setting, increases exposure and risk of human infections with swine flu viruses. So far, person-to-person spread in these situations has been limited. However, should a swine influenza virus change so that it causes ongoing spread between people, it could cause a widespread epidemic or a pandemic.

In 2018, a group of CDC scientists tested the Mobile Influenza Analysis (Mia) -a portable lab with mobile sequencing technology- to analyze the full genomes of influenza viruses. After testing the technology and methodology at CDC headquarters, John Barnes (microbiologist and team lead), Matthew Keller (post-doctoral fellow), Malania Wilson (biologist), and Ben Rambo-Martin (bioinformation specialist) departed to test Mia in the field.

At a swine barn, the CDC team used Mia to analyze specimens collected by onsite veterinarians from more than 90 pigs. The field analysis revealed an outbreak of swine influenza A viruses among the pigs.  The full genetic sequence data of the virus causing the outbreak was sent to CDC electronically, where that information can be used as a blueprint to “build” a virus for use in vaccine production (called a candidate vaccine virus).

Ohio State Veterinarian Swabbing Pigs

Photograph by Benjamin Rambo-Martin

STEP ONE: Gathering Samples

Veterinarians from Ohio State University swabbed more than 90 pigs in the barn; seven tested positive for influenza. CDC scientists then sequenced the viruses in those samples, and compared the sequences to other influenza viruses.

CDC Scientists working in a barn, 2018

Two CDC scientists work side by side in the empty stall sequencing the samples taken from pigs.

Photograph by Benjamin Rambo-Martin

STEP TWO: Sequencing the Samples

That night, the CDC genomics sequencing team set up the equipment on a picnic table in an empty horse stall located near the swine. Working throughout the night, CDC scientists sequenced the samples.

Mia Cases

Laptop and other material from the a Mia case

STEP THREE: Analyzing the Samples

After the complex work of sequencing the swine samples was done, CDC scientists evaluated the data they had collected.

This laptop screen shows a colorful phylogenetic tree. Scientists use phylogenetic trees to visually illustrate how closely related the eight RNA segments of the viruses isolated from pig samples are to RNA segments from previously identified influenza viruses. 

Mia Cases

One of the Mia cases

Mia Cases

Interior view of a Mia case

Modern Influenza Science Case Studies
Mobile Influenza Analysis (MIA) Kits