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Flu virus similar to Swine Flu with pandemic potential.

Image Credit: Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images

A new virus that is carried by pigs, can also infect humans. Researchers found, that this type of swine flu can trigger a pandemic. The virus was found in several pig farms in China.

Referred to as G4 EA H1N1 , it genetically comes from the H1N1 strain. It has ‘all the essential hallmarks of being highly adapted to infect humans,’ according to a group of scientists from China’s center for disease control.

Researchers took 30,000 nasal swabs from pigs in slaughterhouses, between 2011-2018. They isolated 179 swine flu viruses. The majority of these viruses were new, and have been infecting pigs since 2016.

Researches carried out experiments on the virus and tested the virus on ferrets, usually used in flu studies, since they show similar symptoms to humans.

The research concluded that the virus G4 is highly infectious. It can replicate in human cells, and was found to cause more serious symptoms in ferrets than all the other viruses. Current vaccines will not work against this virus, but if need be, the vaccine may be adapted to do so. Tests have shown that around 4.4% of the general population has already had this virus, which means that animal-to-human transmission already occurred, but there is not any evidence yet that it has the ability to be passed from human-to-human.

James Wood, which leads the department of veterinary medicine at Cambridge University had this to say,

‘The work comes as a salutary reminder that we are constantly at risk of new emergence of zoonotic pathogens and that farmed animals- with which humans have greater contact than with wildlife- may act as the source for important pandemic viruses’.

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